The 6 Most Important Stocks for the Week Ahead: Apple, 3M, Boeing and More

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The DJIA and S&P 500 Index are in the midst of earnings season, and despite choppy earnings and sales figures the stock market just keeps rallying higher and higher. Friday’s mixed results do not alter the fact that the market is still wanting to rise. The earnings schedule is rather full in the week ahead and 24/7 Wall St. has decided to screen out what it thinks will be the six most important earnings report in the week ahead.

This report is skewed more heavily to the DJIA stocks, but that is as they are the most important as far as the stock market is concerned. Earnings estimates are from Thomson Reuters and we have added color on each.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is reporting after the close on Tuesday. Earnings expectations have been ratcheting down handily, as the earnings per share estimate is $7.31 currently versus just over $9 per share only three months ago. Revenue is expected to only have grown by 0.2% to almost $35.1 billion. Argus just ratcheted down its expectations for iPhone sales as well. This stock remains very range bound and it is going to either take really good news or really bad news to create moves higher or lower. With the disappointing tech earnings so far, we cannot help but wonder if Apple is being set up for a disappointment as well.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) is also reporting on Tuesday and the stock is only about 1% under a new 52-week high. The company is expected to report earnings of $1.27 per share, and sales are expected to be down 9% to $10 billion. DuPont trades at an expected 15-times earnings estimates for this year and we would point out that the $54.94 consensus price target is lower than the $57.08 share price from late on Friday.

United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) is expected to report earnings on Tuesday, and there must be some serious excitement as the conglomerate is trading at an all-time high. Estimates for earnings are $1.58 per share, and sales growth is expected to be up 18% to $16.37 billion. After hitting a new high of $102.42 on Friday, United Tech shares have a consensus price target of $104.05 according to analysts.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) will be closely watched on Wednesday when it reports earnings now that there has been so much news around the 787 Dreamliner and on a crash incident involving a 777. Earnings estimates are $1.56 per share, up from $1.27 a year ago, and sales are expected to be up almost 4% to $20.75 billion. At just under $107, the consensus price target is just above $115 as of now.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) has felt more like a slug as its shares have been held back due to slower mining and emerging market demand. Expectations feel like the bar has been set low as a result, but it is also hard to fathom where any great news out of the blue will come from. Estimates are $1.70 in earnings per share on a sales drop of almost 14% to $14.97 billion. Caterpillar trades only at about 12.5-times expected 2013 earnings. At just under $87 in late-Friday trading, the consensus analyst target price is almost $96.50.

3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) reports earnings on Thursday, July 25. Earnings per share are expected to be up about 3% to $1.71 EPS and sales are expected to be up by close to the same amount at $7.77 billion. The stock hit yet a new all-time high of $116.4 on Friday and the consensus price target is now under the price at $110.76. That puts 3M in a “must exceed estimates” position ahead of earnings so that analysts can either raise their estimates and/or their price targets.

As you can see, there is very little sales growth expected and that is an echo of what we have been seeing so far this earnings season. These are all very important stocks to the market and investors will be paying close attention.