Sun, Jul 27, 2014 - Page 15 News List

US stocks mixed after uneven earnings

VARIETY:The NASDAQ rose as Apple and Facebook posted strong results, while the Dow fell as Boeing revealed a huge tax charge and McDonald’s faced a food scandal

AFP, NEW YORK

Mixed corporate earnings produced varied results on Wall Street this week, resulting in gains for the NASDAQ, losses for the Dow and a nearly flat S&P 500.

The tech-rich NASDAQ Composite Index, buoyed by strong results from Apple and Facebook, advanced 17.41 points (0.39 percent) on the week to 4,449.56.

However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, weighed down by some disappointing results from blue-chip companies, dropped 139.61 (0.82 percent) to 16,960.57.

Splitting the difference was the S&P 500, the most broad-based of the three leading indices, which finished essentially flat at 1,978.34, up 0.12 of a point.

Earnings took center stage given a relatively light week of US economic data that will pick up considerably next week.

Market observers were positive on earnings season after the initial wave of reports, but there was greater hesitancy by week’s end as more companies disappointed.

“It’s been an okay, but not a great, earnings season, and not enough to get some momentum behind the market to make higher levels,” Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said on Friday.

Some of the biggest disappointments came from the 30-member Dow. Aviation giant Boeing, down 1 percent for the week, boosted its profit forecast for this year on better-than-expected earnings, but rattled the market by disclosing a US$272 million after-tax charge to reflect additional work on the huge KC-46A Tanker program for the US Air Force.

McDonald’s, which dropped 3.3 percent, found itself facing tough questioning from analysts after reporting another set of lackluster profits on fairly flat global sales that resulted in a 0.7 percent drop in earnings compared with a year ago.

The fast-food giant also contended with a food safety scandal in Asia after Shanghai officials shuttered a food supplier for mixing out-of-date meat with fresh product following an investigative report by a local television station. On Friday, McDonald’s said its restaurants in Japan had stopped selling products made with chicken from China.

Other blue-chip companies to disappoint included Coca-Cola (down 3.4 percent) and Visa (down 2.5 percent).

However, not all of the underperformers came in the Dow. Online retailing giant Amazon, a NASDAQ stock, plummeted nearly 10 percent on Friday after reporting a net loss of US$126 million for the second quarter, much bigger than the US$7 million loss a year ago.

Analysts said the market is losing patience with the online retailer despite strong revenue growth.

However, the weak Amazon report was more than offset by positive news from Apple (up 3.4 percent), which notched an 11.6 percent rise in quarterly profits to US$7.7 billion behind strong iPhone sales, and Facebook (up 9.9 percent), which saw quarterly profits more than double to US$791 million, thanks to strong ad revenues.

Of the 229 companies in the S&P 500 to report earnings so far, 155 have beaten analyst expectations, 41 have missed and 33 have met, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Next week’s earnings calendar is also heavy and includes Dow members ExxonMobil, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble, as well as microblogging site Twitter and UPS.

The week will also feature a busy schedule of economic data, including this month’s labor market report, the S&P Case-Shiller index of home prices for May, the US Conference Board’s report on consumer confidence for this month and the first assessment of second-quarter GDP.

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