NEW YORK (
--Earnings season continues Tuesday with a heavy emphasis on Dow stocks releasing quarterly numbers.
are all slated to report their quarterly results tomorrow.
The blue-chip index flirted with the 12,000 mark on Monday, so it'll be interestiing to see if it can break through that psychologically important level, which it hasn't seen since late June 2008. If any of the earnings reports disappoint, traders will have a good reason to take some profits. The Dow has already climbed 3.4% year-to-date and the month isn't even over.
Verizon has been making headlines of late with the impending Feb. 11 launch of
iPhone 4. Prepare yourself for an advertising tsunami because the ads have already begun and will only become more heavily rotated. The stock is up roughly 15% in the past 52 weeks.
The numbers are due before the market opens and the conference call is sure to include plenty of questions about iPhone expectations. Analysts will likely start projecting their own numbers for the launch as well. Some don't believe it will be a game changer, but there are plenty of bulls around, including
, which has a 12-month target price of $42, implying upside of 20% from current levels.
Dupont had a great 2010, with the stock up 48%. So can it repeat that performance? Like many major industrial companies, Dupont has embarked on cost-cutting initiatives. The company's end market also had a faster than expected recovery and those two factors combined to deliver excellent earnings growth for the chemicals giant.
Agriculture has been red hot and that isn't expected to slow. Farmers are getting top dollar for their crops and are buying more seeds. Throw in a recovering auto and industrial markets and it looks like Dupont should be able to get past rising raw costs and deliver more earnings growth. If Dupont delivers positive results, it will strengthen conviction that economic recovery is on its way. Dupont is looked at as a leading indicator, not lagging.
The story's a bit different at 3M, which hasn't been as successful as Dupont in dealing with raw costs. The company already telegraphed a weak 2011 during its investor day in December. The stock has risen 10% in the past 52 weeks. The average estimate of analysts polled by
is for a profit of $1.27 a share on revenue of $6.62 billion in the quarter.
Investors will be looking for evidence that 3M can start passing those higher costs along to its customers. Then there's those pesky pension expenses. The company has tried to manage Wall Street's expectations on what this amount will be, but it keeps changing. It could be anywhere between $400 million to $600 million. Either way, this industrial giant is dropping off radar screens since it continues to disappoint where Dupont succeeds.
keeps hitting new highs and that doesn't look to change. Following strong results from
, this smaller oil service company should deliver as well.
Several analysts have begun lowering their ratings based on valuation, but there are still 21 with buy ratings vs. 13 with holds. Unless it shoots itself in the foot, the stock should follow its bigger siblings.
After the bell comes
, which was seeing increased buying of call options -- a bullish indicator -- ahead of its quarterly results. The company has topped Wall Street's profit view for three straight quarters as Internet advertising has been in recovery mode for a while now.
Mostly investors will be looking to see if the company has its house in order. Web stocks are coming back into favor -- witness the IPO market -- and with all the hoopla surrounding Facebook and LinkedIn, why not get into a Web stock whose story you already know?
Economic data is back on the docket before the open with the Case-Shiller index of home prices due at 9 a.m. ET and then consumer confidence at 10 a.m. ET. Case-Shiller is actually a good barometer of whether house prices are going up or are just flat. Don't expect any wild numbers here. Consumer confidence consists of five questions posed to whoever will stay on the phone to answer them. They aren't calling people at work, they're calling homes. For some reason, however, the market clings to this report.
Then the day ends with the President's State of the Union address. The expected main topics will be the economy, jobs and government investments in the country (Read spending).
--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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