Now that we’re getting deeper into earnings season, investors have begun to focus more of their attention on what really matters: earnings. Other than Monday’s drop, which was caused by the poor gross domestic product numbers from China, all week we saw stocks trading on earnings news more so than on economic data. And in that kind of environment, when earnings disappoint, stocks fall. That’s what we saw happening all around the market this week, and it’s why the major indexes moved lower over the past five trading sessions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 317 points, or 2.16%, and now sits at 14,547 after 19 of its 30 components ended the week lower. The S&P 500 didn’t perform much better, losing 2.11%, while the Nasdaq ended the week as the biggest loser, after dropping 2.69%.
Before we hit the Dow losers, let’s look at the index’s big winner. The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) ended the week higher by 3.84%, even after it fell 2.41% on Monday alone. Monday’s decline was probably due to an overreaction from shareholders relating to China’s slowing GDP. The stock quickly turned things around and rose 5.69% on Tuesday, after the company reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings for the first quarter. Earnings per share beat analysts’ estimates by $0.01 after coming in at $0.46 per share, even though revenue fell 1% to $11.04 billion, which was higher than the $11.02 billion Wall Street had expected.
The big losers
The release of China’s GDP numbers hit nearly the whole market on Monday, but most stocks rebounded. A few, however, continued to fall as the week progressed, and one of them was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT). Shares of the construction heavy-equipment manufacturer fell 5.43% this past week. After losing just less than $2 per share on Monday, it dropped another dollar on both Tuesday and Thursday.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) releases earnings on Monday, and it will probably be another volatile day for shares. If the company misses, expect another big decline, but if Cat beats Wall Street’s expectations, shares are likely to climb rapidly higher. For more about what to expect from Monday’s earnings report, click here.
Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) lost 4.74% this past week. The stock tumbled 3.7% on Thursday alone, after the company announced an earnings report in which it beat on the bottom line and missed on the top. But what hit the stock perhaps even harder was the announcement that a major public-sector employer had reduced its coverage from a full-risk plan to cheaper fee-based coverage. This may be a new trend the health-insurance companies will begin seeing, and if that’s the case, it will most definitely hurt revenue and profits.