This article originally appeared on Jan. 30, 2014, on RealMoney.com
Almost two-thirds of the Dow Jones Industrial Average has now reported and I know that the venerable index has been clubbed of late, down 5% for the year. We have to ask if it deserves that level of punishment.
Frankly, I don't think it does.
Let's check the report cards so far, keeping in mind their potential for weakness from the emerging-market turmoil.
First, the As.
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- JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) reported among the best quarters of any of the financials, yet it has been pretty much in a straight line down since it announced its figures and, at one point, was down almost 10%. JPM has some Chinese exposure and, as part of a worldwide bank, it is always going to be impacted by emerging markets. But this is not Citigroup (C), which has made its bed in those peripheral countries. I think that JPM is a buy right here.
- American Express (AXP - Get Report) had its finest quarter in years, balanced growth, expenses under control, reflecting strong individual travel and corporate travel, as well as nascent business formation. Yet it has sunk to $85 from $91, where it was before a fabulous quarter.
- DuPont (DD - Get Report) looked real good and, frankly, I think that its re-shaping from commodity to proprietary is going along better than expected. Yet it briefly traded all the way down to $59, where it yielded 3% from $64, where it was before the quarter.
- Caterpillar (CAT - Get Report) gave you a performance that looks like the beginning of a multi-year turn because it was done without strong China, chiefly on the back of a better-than-expected business in the United States and huge cost takeouts. That buyback is fabulous. The stock's been too strong to get hammered here, as everyone, including many shorts, want to get in, not get out. That's something highly unusual during the Doug Oberhelman reign.
5. What can I say about Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report)other than we would never have wanted Steve Ballmer's head if the company kept delivering this kind of quarter, with fabulous execution across everything from Windows to Surface to Enterprise and Xbox, where it was the real winner, by far, of the new console wars. Why is this stock still hanging in the high 30s? I can make a case for $40.
6. I am still reeling from how good United Technologies (UTX) was and how the business, like Honeywell (HON), got stronger and stronger as the quarter began. Untied Tech cited non-residential construction and aerospace as two industries that are gaining momentum and it singled out China as being particularly strong. The Chinese business is long cycle, long order and is gaining, thanks to Otis, not declining. Yet it had plummeted to $111 from $116, where buyers instantly emerged.
7. We have been waiting for a definitive turn in Procter & Gamble (PG) since A.G. Lafley came back and this was the quarter he did so. The organic growth, courtesy lots of new successful products, is kicking in. The emerging markets are gaining strength, even as the newfound weaker ones were actually addressed in a positive way. I can't believe that this stock has fallen to the high $70s and I wish our trust wasn't restricted because I want to do some buying.
8. Did you catch Pfizer (PFE)? Did you see that growth after the patent cliff? This company is managing it far better than anyone thought and even though sales were weaker, there is no denying that the company has a very strong pipe and might, with a 3.5% yield, be one of the big bargains in the Dow.
Now, how about the Bs?
9. I know Goldman Sachs (GS) got hammered after it reported and that some have decided that this is the company that is most hobbled by the changes in Washington. I think that's just poppycock. Goldman's delivering good numbers and is set to deliver greater ones with the return of mergers and acquisitions to a higher level. It is just suffering by comparison to many of the other financials, but down to $163 from $179? How much lower can we expect this one to be hammered?
10. I know the perception is that GE (GE) really blew the quarter. But if you went over it line by line, you would find that aerospace and oil and gas were very good and healthcare was okay. The company is in reposition mode and it has tons of orders globally. It is suffering from a perceived downturn in China, but the facts don't bear it out. Yet it fell more than 10% from its high, a serious overreaction.
11. Verizon (VZ)? It was just your typical good Verizon quarter. The company can't shoot the lights out because it is just a GDP play to some degree, but the closing of the Verizon Wireless deal will give it some pep. A 4.5% yield in a 2.6% 10-year world? I would rather own Verizon at $47.
12,. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) didn't deliver what I was looking for on the bottom line as the margins just weren't exceptional. But the top line was exceptional and that's what I want from a drug company. Lots in the pipe, a big payoff from the diagnostics sale and yet down to $88 from $95. Way over-punished for its B grade.
13. Travelers (TRV) reported an exceptional quarter and is buying back a huge amount of stock. But it mentioned price competition and, even though I thought everyone in the world knew about that, it didn't matter and the stock's been clubbed beyond all reason, at one point down 10%! Egads! Come on.