Dow Earnings Tug-of-War: Microsoft Soars While Procter & Gamble Fizzles

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed modestly this morning, rising 21 points shortly before 11 a.m. EDT. Economic data delayed by the government shutdown started trickling in, but earnings news from Microsoft and Procter & Gamble revealed the inner tension within the Dow as third-quarter earnings season progresses.

On the downside, Procter & Gamble has fallen almost 1% after reporting modest increases in revenue. Currency impacts weighed on the consumer giant's results, though, turning what would have been 8% gains in core earnings per share into a small decline. P&G sees continued growth next year, but it failed to provide the improved guidance that many other companies have included in their quarterly reports over the past week. With the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index falling to its lowest level in 2013 during October, consumer stocks like Procter & Gamble could see domestic headwinds fighting against future growth.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has gained almost 6% after last night's earnings release. Gains of 16% in revenue led to 17% higher net income, crushing the most bullish of investor expectations and revealing the strength of Microsoft's penetration in the business world. On the consumer side, Microsoft has suffered from the rise of rival smartphones and mobile devices that encourage the use of alternatives to Microsoft products. But Microsoft's results show that commercial clients still rely on the company's core software offerings, and a doubling of cloud-based revenue is a good sign that the company hasn't missed out on the cloud-computing revolution.

Overall, earnings season has been generally favorable thus far, with more than two-thirds of the S&P 500 companies that have reported thus far seeing higher earnings than expected. But companies that report big sales gains continue to be at a premium, with fewer than half topping estimates. In that light, Microsoft's results look even more impressive.

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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 Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool owns shares of 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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