The Dow Is Down Despite Solid J&J and Coca-Cola Earnings

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Investors continue to want progress from Washington on the government shutdown and debt-ceiling debate, and so far, they haven't gotten it. The Dow Jones Industrials traded down 53 points as of 10:50 a.m. EDT as market participants hold their breath in anticipation of some sort of compromise to reopen the government and avoid a debt default.

The pressure from the shutdown has been strong enough that it has overshadowed results from the new earnings season. This morning's reports were generally favorable, as Johnson & Johnson managed to gain almost 1% on continued strength in the health-care conglomerate's pharmaceuticals business. Drug revenue rose almost 10% globally, with strong results from blockbusters like its Remicade arthritis treatment and its prostate-cancer drug Zytiga. Sluggish results from its medical-device business and adverse currency impacts couldn't hold J&J's overall sales down, with revenue rising 3.1%. Net income rose slightly, and adjusted earnings topped estimates. Even better, J&J boosted its 2013 earnings guidance, helping encourage investors about the company's future after lingering concerns over the past several years.

Coca-Cola's earnings news wasn't quite as unequivocally positive as J&J's. The beverage giant overcame a 3% drop in revenue in boosting net income by 6%. Yet volume growth continues to be a drag on Coke's long-term growth prospects, especially as international volume growth came in at just 3%. Although investors have grown used to relatively weak performance in Coca-Cola's core Americas segment, emerging markets are essential to the soft-drink king's strategic plans. Those long-term concerns are likely behind the stock's drop this morning, as shares gave up pre-market gains to turn modestly negative.

Beyond the earnings realm, Microsoft was the top gainer in the Dow, rising more than 1% as analysts at Jefferies upgraded the company's stock. Arguably more interesting, though, is the company's new partnership with digital-filing-system maker Neat. As Microsoft moves more aggressively into cloud computing, it needs strategic partnerships like this to keep up with its rivals. If it can succeed in catching up, Microsoft could find new avenues for growth beyond its legacy operating systems and office software.

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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 Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. 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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