Dow Today: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Leads The Day Higher, Caterpillar (CAT) Lags

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading down 144.0 points (-1.1%) at 12,818 as of Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012, 9:40 a.m. ET. During this time, 66.6 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 818.6 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 236 issues advancing vs. 2,366 declining with 82 unchanged.

The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), which is sporting a seven-cent gain (+0.2%) bringing the stock to $31.87. Volume for Microsoft Corporation currently sits at 4.1 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 55.1 million shares.

Microsoft Corporation has a market cap of $246.19 billion and is part of the technology sector and computer software & services industry. Shares are up 23.6% year to date as of Monday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 2.5%.

Microsoft Corporation develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products and services for various computing devices worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.6, above the average computer software & services industry P/E ratio of 10.7 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Microsoft Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Holding back the Dow today is Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), which is lagging the broader Dow index with a $4.21 decline (-3.8%) bringing the stock to $105.88. This single loss is lowering the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 31.86 points or roughly accounting for 22.1% of the Dow's overall loss. Volume for Caterpillar currently sits at two million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 7.8 million shares.

Caterpillar has a market cap of $68.73 billion and is part of the industrial goods sector and industrial industry. Shares are up 24.2% year to date as of Monday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 1.6%.

Caterpillar Inc. manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.2, below the average industrial industry P/E ratio of 16.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Caterpillar as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.
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