NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's frustrating about chasing all these incremental headlines from Europe is that it's never quite clear how any of this seeming progress is going to help.

Take the situation in Italy on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was supposedly influenced throughout a choppy session by investors wondering whether Silvio Bersculoni was going to hang on as prime minister or not. The story seems to have settled on Bersculoni agreeing to leave if Italy's parliament passes the austerity measures being sought by the European Union.

The idea that this is really a bullish development for stocks is a reach, mainly because the details of said European Union plan are still a bit fuzzy, and the money to leverage up one super fund or another has yet to be found.

So in keeping with that sentiment, maybe it makes more sense to look for some takeaways from third-quarter earnings season. Citigroup weighed in on Tuesday, saying corporate profits were strong enough to boost its conviction that the U.S. economy will continue to enjoy slow growth and avoid sinking into recession.

"These results support our assumption for 2012 growth ramping down to ~2% US GDP and not a recession, favoring stocks with late-cycle weightings and higher earnings visibility," the firm wrote. "We expect volatility to remain high, but the industrial end markets appear to have sidestepped the worst of the summer's financial market disruptions."

Among the stocks that Citigroup tabbed at risk were names like 3M ( MMM), Ingersoll-Rand ( IR), and Illinois Tool Works ( ITW), which the firm provided as examples of companies with the greatest exposure to Europe as well as the early stage of the economic cycle.

Citigroup also gave a few potential safe havens, singling out Danaher ( DHR), General Electric ( GE), Honeywell ( HON), Roper Industries ( ROP), and Tyco International ( TYC).

"The best stock performers in 3Q11 the third quarter were those with the higher recurring revenue and U.S. exposure," the firm said, explaining the aforementioned companies share these characteristics.

As for Wednesday, Dow component Cisco Systems ( CSCO) reports its fiscal first-quarter results after the closing bell, and the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of 39 cents a share for the three months ended in October on revenue of $11.03 billion. The stock is down roughly 10% so far in 2011 vs. a gain of more than 5% for the Dow overall.

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