Is Apple's Einhorn Fight Pulling Down the Dow?


It's always tempting to blame a hot headline for moving the broader stock market. But as compelling as news stories about Apple are, today's big drop in the Dow Jones Industrials , which are down 122 points as of 10:55 a.m. EST, is less about Apple than about overall economic concerns. Earlier today, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to fall below the Fed's new 6.5% target until mid-2015, throwing cold water on more optimistic economic data that has come out in recent months. With Evans saying he thinks quantitative easing may need to continue into 2014, investors have to wonder whether the Fed's exit strategy will ever pan out the way everyone hopes.

Apple's shares barely budged this morning, but the company is attracting plenty of attention after activist investor David Einhorn filed suit against the iDevice giant, harshly criticizing the company's capital-allocation practices. Einhorn's argument is simple and common among investors: He says it makes no sense for Apple to hold on to huge amounts of cash on its balance sheet. While Apple wants to eliminate the option of issuing preferred stock, Einhorn would rather see the company issue new securities paying higher dividends that will move some of that cash off the balance sheet and, in his view, unlock shareholder value.

Within the Dow, Coca-Cola was a rare winner, climbing more than 1.3% in advance of its earnings release next Tuesday. Analysts expect modest earnings and revenue growth from the beverage giant, even as headwinds like health concerns have called the soft-drink industry's future into question. The big question is whether emerging-market growth can make up for any sluggishness in the core North American market, and, for today at least, investors seem to think the answer is yes.

Finally, Akamai Technologies plunged 16.5% after the company missed revenue estimates in its fourth-quarter results and gave a weak forecast for revenue and margins in the current quarter as well. Better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings weren't enough to bolster the dot-com's shares, as investors have come to rely on strong growth numbers to justify the stock's high valuations.

Will Einhorn crush Apple?
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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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