January 27, 2014: Markets opened slightly higher on Monday and equities spent the day bouncing around the breakeven line. Tech stocks trailed behind, never quite rising above breakeven after the opening bell. New home sales fell in December following big gains in October and November. Stocks closed down across the board, though, with the DJIA closed down 0.26%, the S&P 500 closed down 0.49%, and the Nasdaq Composite closed down 1.08%.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) led the DJIA gainers today, up 5.86% for the day following a fourth-quarter report that came in better than expected. We’re not impressed. Sales in 2014 are forecast to be flat and earnings per share to be slightly higher than a very low consensus analyst estimate. A bribe to shareholders of another $10 billion in stock buybacks over the next four years certainly helped boost the stock today. Shares of Caterpillar closed at $91.22 in a 52-week range of $79.49 to $99.70. Volume was more than 4-times the daily average of around 5 million shares.
Another DJIA stock boosting the index today was United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), up 1.79% to close at $113.80 in a 52-week range of $87.57 to $118.20. The company is reported to be considering a sale or a spin-off of its Sikorsky helicopter business. Volume was more than double the daily average of about 2.8 million shares.
Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) rose XX% today to close up 1.1% at $52.55 in a 52-week range of $40.83 to a new high set today of $54.09. An analyst at Morgan Stanley raised the shares to Overweight and set a price target on the stock of $60. The shares are trading at just over 15x forward earnings, so there could be some upside left in a stock that is up more than 20% in the last 12 months. Volume was more than double the daily average of around 12 million shares traded.
Insurer The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) added 0.85% to close at $82.30 in a 52-week range of $77.09 to $91.68. The stock is also pretty cheap, trading at about 9.5x forward earnings and the potential upside is a solid 12% based on a consensus price target of around $92.25. Volume was about 75% higher than the daily average of 2 million shares traded.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), the most heavily weighted stock in the Dow 30, fell 2.24% today to close at $216.30 in a 52-week range of $154.14 to $235.50. The credit card giant reports earnings later this week and is also suffering from investors shunning of emerging market plays.
Of the Dow 30 stocks 14 closed higher today while 16 closed lower.