Cisco's Earnings Bounce Can't Prevent the Dow's Triple-Digit Slide

The markets have taken a walloping today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average  sinking 178 points into the red as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. Upbeat earnings data from Cisco , the only Dow stock making a serious run into the green today, hasn't kept the price-weighted index afloat -- particularly not after Wal-Mart's own disappointing results took down the big retailer's stock. Let's take a look at what you need to know.

Cisco bounces, but Wal-Mart takes a hit
Cisco's recent earnings history hasn't been anything to get excited about, but the networking giant's stock has certainly excited investors today. Shares have jumped more than 6.7% so far today, by far the biggest mover on the Dow, after the tech company posted fiscal third-quarter earnings that beat on both the top and bottom lines. Cisco reported a per-share net profit of $0.51, topping analyst expectations by $0.03, and recorded revenue of more than $11.5 billion. Still, the company's overall revenue continued its downward track by declining 5.5% from the same quarter a year ago, while earnings without one-time items fell by more than 3%.

Despite that drop, Cisco is striking an upbeat tone heading forward. The company projects a drop in revenue of only 1% to 3% for the current quarter, better than the 5% that Wall Street expects. However, this company's fight isn't over yet. Cisco has faced big struggles in the emerging markets recently, particularly in China; it'll need to battle back in those promising economies to secure greater worldwide growth even with its fantastic results in the U.S. market, where orders jumped by 7%. Cisco is also still searching for answers in its core switching business, which saw sales fall 6% in the quarter. The company is taking a long-term view of its turnaround as it focuses on the Internet of Things and other promising growth niches. Cisco's window is one of years, not of the next quarter. Don't get overly excited by one quarter's good results; the safest bet is to wait until Cisco shows consistent signs of progress.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fellow Dow member Wal-Mart is bereft of smiles today, the stock down 2.5%, after its own earnings took a winter-related beating. Much has been made about the season's severe weather impacting consumers, and the effect hit Wal-Mart's net profit with a blizzard, dropping the mark by 5% for the quarter. Revenue ticked up by 0.8%, but Wal-Mart suffered a disastrous 1.4% drop in international sales.

Even worse for the big retailer, same-store sales at locations open at least a year dipped by 1.3%. Still, there are signs of optimism that bode well this stock's long-term future. The company's online business continues to thrive, with Internet sales up 27% for the quarter. Neighborhood Market locations, smaller stores looking to compete with the likes of drug stores on a local scale, also saw revenue gain 5% for the quarter and have emerged as a particularly bright spot in Wal-Mart's U.S. initiatives. The company's sales sluggishness remains concerning, but in light of the terrible winter and the certain gains, particularly in online sales, Wal-Mart is not yet in troubling territory. The retailer does expect U.S. same-store sales to fall flat in the next quarterly results, however; keep an eye on whether this trend continues throughout the rest of 2014 -- it could mean change is needed for this consumer giant.

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