Dow Today: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Leads The Day Higher, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Lags

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading down 49.0 points (-0.4%) at 13,075 as of Thursday, Mar 22, 2012, 9:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 42.9 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 446 issues advancing vs. 2,165 declining with 126 unchanged.

The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), which is sporting an eight-cent gain (+0.3%) bringing the stock to $31.99. Volume for Microsoft Corporation currently sits at 2.5 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 23.2% year to date as of Wednesday'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 11.7, 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 Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), which is lagging the broader Dow index with a 44-cent decline (-1.9%) bringing the stock to $23.02. This single loss is lowering the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 3.33 points or roughly accounting for 6.8% of the Dow's overall loss. Volume for Hewlett-Packard currently sits at 1.8 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 17.8 million shares.

Hewlett-Packard has a market cap of $56.58 billion and is part of the technology sector and computer hardware industry. Shares are down 8.9% year to date as of Wednesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 2%.

Hewlett-Packard Company and its subsidiaries provide products, technologies, software, solutions, and services to individual consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as to the government, health, and education sectors worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.5, below the average computer hardware industry P/E ratio of 8.6 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Hewlett-Packard as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its attractive valuation levels, considering its current price compared to earnings, book value and other measures. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow.

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