Travelers Beats a Hurricane and the Street to Lead the Dow


Stocks continue to rise around five-year highs today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average charges ahead in the afternoon. As of 2:15 p.m. EST, the Dow has risen 45 points, or 0.33%, to keep up its January surge. Member stocks are leaning in the green on a day that's shaping up to be a good one for investors. However, several laggards with losses exceeding 1% are keeping the would-be charge in check.

Ups and downs
is today's top Dow stock, with shares up 2.5% following the company's fourth-quarter earnings release. It wasn't as if the insurer had a great quarter, either: 2012's Hurricane Sandy weighed heavily on the numbers, with net profit down more than 50% because of the storm's toll. Wall Street had been expecting that, however -- and the final results still topped expectations. With revenue on the rise, all signs point to investor faith that Travelers will pull through the Sandy debacle with flying colors.

Aluminum producer Alcoa is also recording solid gains today, up 2% so far. There's little news on the company, but the rise continues Alcoa's recent run-up over the past five months, during which the stock has gained more than 5%. At the beginning of earnings season, the company did post quarterly results that topped Wall Street's revenue projections, and the recovery of the housing market and the global economy should help it continue to rise.

Shares of fast-food king McDonald's are up more than 1%. The stock has had a good start to the year, but concerns are growing over the company's sales growth ahead of Wednesday's earnings release. The third quarter marked its first global sales decline in nearly a decade.

It's not all good for Dow members, however. Coca-Cola isn't having a great day, with shares down 1.3% to lead all index laggards. Soda sales have been on the decline recently, falling 0.6% with the expanding public focus on obesity and other health concerns. Coca-Cola has managed to avoid much of the spotlight for now, but the company -- despite its strong leadership and outstanding track record -- deserves to be watched to see how it adapts to changing consumer preferences while keeping a firm hold on soda's 25% share of the U.S. beverage market.

There is no question that Coca-Cola has been great to long-term shareholders, but the company faces some new threats to its continued market dominance. We've recently compiled a premium research report containing everything you need to know about Coca-Cola. If you own or are considering owning shares in the company, you'll want to click here now and get started!

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