IBM Leads the Dow's Downturn as Sony, Deere Feel Earnings Pain

The market today retreated from its recent all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Averagedown 61 points as of 2:30 p.m. EDT and all but a few member stocks taking a tumble. IBM  fell 1.6% to the bottom of the Dow, while earnings season and downbeat predictions have taken a big toll on Deere and Sony. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

IBM hopes for a hardware rebound
IBM projected that its hardware business will turn around from recent losses this year. The tech giant's CFO noted at an investor briefing that he believes the company can "stabilize" the business as IBM focuses research and development investment in hardware in order to counter falling demand and sales drop-offs. In IBM's most recent quarter, its hardware segment revenue fell by 23%, far more than weighing down the 1.6% sales gain from the company's software group. With losses mounting in emerging markets and the Asia-Pacific region, IBM has a lot of work to do to keep investors satisfied in the long run.

Elsewhere on the market today, the stock of tractor and construction machinery company Deere has fallen by 2.1% despite the company reporting a per-share profit of $2.65 in its most recent quarter, a figure that easily topped analyst expectations and represented only a small decline from the year-ago quarter a year. However, Deere's sales fell by a more concerning 9% as revenue from tractors and harvesters plunged 12% during the quarter. Cost-cutting measures and improved margins in its construction group helped Deere overcome that fall, but investors haven't given the company a green light so far today despite the earnings beat.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The company sees full-year equipment sales turning down by 4% in 2014. Even worse, Deere projects sales of agricultural equipment to decline 7%, as weakness in select global markets could outweigh gains from the U.S. construction industry this year that have buoyed the hopes of industrial investors. The company singled out Brazil among the nations giving it trouble lately, as the sugar-cane market has seen margins pull back. Deere also noted that Russia and Ukraine's ongoing territorial standoff has been a negative for the company, and sales to Eastern European markets could fall further this year if a protracted conflict occurs. The long-term implications of the U.S. economic rebound are good for Deere via improved construction, but for a company that operates on such a global footprint, investors need to keep an eye on what's going on around the world. The agricultural industry is on solid ground right now, so there's a good chance that Deere could mount a comeback in equipment sales there in 2015 if markets like Brazil and Argentina can turn things around.

Finally, Sony's stock has lost 6.9% after the company's own earnings disappointment. The electronics giant weathered a $1.3 billion loss during its most recent quarter, and Sony projects a net loss of more than $480 million through its current fiscal year. It's not a great sign for investors that Sony is facing mounting losses despite recent success at the box office, where the company scored a big hit with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and early success with its PlayStation 4 entertainment console, which has sold more than 7 million units following its launch last year. While Sony has some businesses going for it, it seems this company's going to need much more in order to get back into the black on a long-term basis.

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The article IBM Leads the Dow's Downturn as Sony, Deere Feel Earnings Pain originally appeared on

Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. 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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