Stocks started Thursday in the red due in large part to a weak earnings report from Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Shares of the streaming media giant plunged nearly 11% on volume that was more than quadruple the daily average. This after the company said it added just 2.83 million subscribers in the second quarter, well below expectations of 4.8 million.
Netflix investors are fretting that Dow component Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) will pilfer market share from Netflix as that company ramps up its own stream offerings. Interestingly, shares of Disney fell 0.67% today.
Even with those trouble spots, the Nasdaq Composite, of which Netflix is a member, gained 0.27% while the S&P 500 added 0.36%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.01%.
Before getting into what happened today, I’ll take this opportunity to remind readers that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reports after the bell Thursday. The Dow component, up 0.11% today, is expected to post adjusted earnings per share of $1.21 on revenue of $32.8 billion. Microsoft’s report will go a long way in determining the fate of markets on Friday.
Big Blue: IBM Surges
Shares of International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) surged 4.59% on more than triple the daily average after the Dow component posted second-quarter net income of $2.5 billion, or $2.81 a share, up from $2.4 billion, or $2.61 a share, last year. Revenue fell to $19.16 billion from $20 billion. Analysts expected IBM to earn $3.08 a share on revenue of $19.17 billion.
While revenue dipped and missed expectations, IBM was able to rally thanks to its cloud computing revenue. Revenue for the quarter was $5.65 billion, beating analysts’ expectations calling for $5.55 billion.
IBM said it still expects to earn at least $13.90 per share this year.
Shares of American Express (NYSE:AXP) gained 1.03%, good for the second-best performance in the Dow after IBM. The credit card giant ascended to another record high ahead of its earnings report, due out Friday before the opening bell.
The company is expected to report second-quarter earnings of $2.05 per share on revenue of $2.94 billion. Shares of American Express are up nearly 36% year-to-date, making the stock one of the Dow’s best performers and one of the best-performing names among large-cap financial services names.
With that came some unusual put buying in stock today, indicating some traders are bracing for a post-earnings decline or, at the very least, are hedging long stock positions in AXP.
Dialing Up 5G
“Apple’s near-term iPhone problem is mix,” said Raymond James analyst Chris Caso in a note. “Apple is selling a much larger mix of legacy iPhones than in the past. The reason, in our view, is twofold: higher prices for flagship phones, coupled with the fact that there’s virtually nothing a user can do with an iPhone XS that they can’t do with a 6s … think the higher bandwidth and improved connectivity of 5G will provide a more compelling upgrade.”
Caso upgraded Apple to “outperform” with a $250 price target.
Dow Jones Bottom Line
With market participants focusing on earnings, at least for now, some are wondering what the fate of a Federal Reserve rate cut will be. Between better-than-expected earnings and some strong economic data, the Fed may not feel the need to cut borrowing costs this month or anytime soon.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its regional manufacturing survey registered at 21.8 in June, the best reading this year, and well above estimates calling for a reading of 5. The Fed is, in its own words, data dependent, and the better the data, the less likely a rate cut becomes.
Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.