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Caterpillar, 3M and Verizon to Headline Thursday's Earnings Parade


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Dow Jones Industrial Average components Caterpillar (CAT), 3M Company (MMM) and Verizon (VZ) will lead more than a dozen companies reporting quarterly earnings before the opening bell on Thursday.

Rather than profile each stock individually, I will interpret the "Crunching the Numbers" tables (see pages 2 and 3) for you.

The biggest year-to-date gainer is Southwest Airlines (LUV) ($23.93), up 27%. The airline seems to be flying at an altitude that should be difficult to sustain. It set an all-time intraday high of $24.45 on April 2. The weekly chart shows declining stochastics with the airline in a parabolic rise of a rocket, not an airplane taking off. Southwest began this rise after moving above its 200-week simple moving average at the beginning of January 2013. A quarterly value level is $21.81, with monthly and weekly risky levels at $24.53 and $24.84, respectively.

The second biggest year-to-date gainer is Under Armour (UA) ($53.87), up 23.4%. This stock is down from an all-time intraday high at $62.39 set on March 19. As a result, the stock will have a negative weekly chart given a close this week below its five-week modified moving average at $53.84. Because we do not show a value level, investors should consider selling strength back to the high as a quarterly risky level is at $62.84.

The biggest year-to-date loser is General Motors (GM) ($34.23), down 16.2%. Key for this stock is how management addresses the recall scandal and whether investors believe the issue is priced into the stock's weakness. The stock traded as low as $31.70 on April 11, and this week's value level at $32.74 should prevent a lower low. The weekly chart will shift to positive given a close this week above its five-week MMA at $34.66. Semiannual and quarterly risky levels are $36.09 and $36.15, respectively.

The Dow Transportation Average set a new all-time intraday high at 7764.90 on Tuesday. In addition to Southwest Airlines, there are two other components in this average in today's tables.

Trucking logistics company and Dow transports component Landstar (LSTR) ($61.93) is up 7.8% year to date. It too set an all-time intraday high, reaching $62.22 on Tuesday. The stock has a positive weekly chart with its five-week MMA at $59.85. We do not show a risky level, so the company needs to beat analysts' earnings per share estimate of 59 cents to sustain this momentum. We show a semiannual pivot at $60.10, which has an 85% chance of being tested by the end of June.

Package delivery giant and Dow transports component United Parcel Services (UPS) ($99.00) has been a laggard. It is down 5.8% this year, as the stock set its all-time intraday high at $105.37 on Dec. 31. The stock has stayed above its 200-day SMA at $94.95 and is above all five moving averages in today's first table. The weekly chart is positive with its five-week MMA at $97.68. A quarterly value level is $94.31 with a weekly pivot at $98.30 and semiannual risky levels at $100.46 and $103.68.

Summarizing the first "Crunching the Numbers" table we see one stock overbought, and that's Caterpillar ($103.69), up 14% year to date. Six stocks have rising stochastics, and seven show declining stochastics. Aetna (AET) ($68.71) and GM are the only stocks below their five-week modified moving averages.

Summarizing the second "Crunching the Numbers" table, we see Landstar as the only stock that does not have a risky level and Under Armour as the only stock that does not have a value level.

Your investment strategy for these stocks depends on whether you are a buyer on weakness or a seller of strength. We advocate using a good 'til cancelled limit order to buy weakness to a value level or to sell strength to a risky level.

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