by Marc Bastow | April 20, 2012 4:49 pm
The Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 rebounded from Thursday’s losses to send investors into the weekend in an upbeat mood. A trickle of good news in revenue and earnings growth that started with Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) announcement after the bell on Thursday turned into a river, as GE (NYSE:GE) and McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) picked up the momentum with positive reports released this morning.
Additional encouraging news for the market came in prior to the opening bell from Europe, where Germany reported that a measure of business confidence had increased for the sixth straight month, rallying European markets and the euro.
For the day, the Dow ended up 0.50% at 13,029.19, while the S&P notched a narrower gain of 0.12% to end at 1,378.51. The Nasdaq slipped, losing 0.24% to 3,000.45 as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continued a three-day slide, sinking another 2.5% to close at 573.95.
Microsoft shares surged 4.5%, closing at $32.43, as profit in fiscal third-quarter topped forecasts on better-than-anticipated sales of software for businesses.
GE shares closed up nearly 1.15% at $19.35 as the company reported net income of $3.03 billion, or 29 cents a share, down 12% year-over-year. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 34 cents a share, topping analysts’ estimates by a penny. GE cited its strong performance from the industrial business as the prime revenue and earnings mover.
Fast-food king McDonald’s posted first-quarter earnings of $1.23 per share, in line with the Zacks consensus estimate. Reported earnings were 7% higher than the year-ago level of $1.15 per share, thanks to higher comparable-store sales in all regions. McDonald’s shares closed up 0.69% to $96.25, after surging nearly 2% in early trading.
Quarterly earnings continue to be a positive surprise to investors and analysts, as more than 80% of the 121 S&P companies that have already reported earnings have beaten analysts’ estimates according to Thompson Reuters. Typically, in any quarter no more than 60% accomplish the feat.
Among the companies releasing earnings on Monday are ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Xerox (NYSE:XRX) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Tuesday brings a slew of reports, including 3M (NYSE:MMM), Norfolk-Southern (NYSE:NSC), Hershey (NYSE:HSY) and, perhaps the most anticipated release of the season: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
As of this writing, Marc Bastow is long AAPL, MSFT and GE.
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