Opening View: DJIA Pointed Higher Ahead of GDP, Sentiment Data; PG, F in the Spotlight


U.S. stocks are poised to bounce back from yesterday's economic data-induced drubbing , with Wall Street waxing optimistic ahead of Uncle Sam's gross domestic product ( GDP ) estimate and the latest consumer sentiment stats. In the meantime, however, the pre-market plethora of earnings reports is likely testing the bulls' mettle. Just to name a few, Procter & Gamble ( PG ) is lingering south of breakeven after offering up a lackluster forecast, while Ford Motor ( F ) is reeling from its own earnings miss. Nevertheless, the major market indexes are pointed higher ahead of the bell, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) set to reclaim its short-lived perch atop the 12,700 level .

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In earnings news, Procter & Gamble (PG - 64.80) reported a fiscal second-quarter profit of $1.69 billion, or 57 cents per share, marking a 49% decline from last year's profit of $3.33 billion, or $1.11 per share. Excluding items, the blue chip earned $1.10 per share, besting analysts' expectations for an adjusted per-share profit of $1.07. However, revenue edged 4% higher to $22.14 billion, just missing Wall Street's forecast for sales of $22.18 billion. Looking ahead, the Cincinnati-based conglomerate expects core earnings of $4 to $4.10 per share for 2012, below analysts' forecast for per-share earnings of $4.33. At last check, PG is set to open about 0.2% lower.

Juniper Networks (JNPR - 22.37) last night said its fourth-quarter profit dropped 49% to $96.2 million, or 18 cents per share, from last year's profit of $190.2 million, or 35 cents per share. Excluding items, earnings arrived at 28 cents per share. Amid a weak economic backdrop, revenue was also on the decline, sliding 5.8% to $1.12 billion. The bottom-line results matched analysts' expectations, but revenue fell just shy of the $1.13 billion forecast. Looking forward, JNPR cut its outlook for the current quarter. The tech issue is now calling for adjusted earnings of 11 cents to 14 cents per share on $960 million to $990 million in sales, far short of the 26 cents per share on $1.1 billion in revenue expected by analysts. In pre-market trading, JNPR is bracing for a 9.5% drop.

Starbucks (SBUX - 48.34) reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of $382.1 million, or 50 cents per share, up 10% from $346.6 million, or 45 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, revenue rose 16% to a record $3.44 billion, as global comparable store sales increased 9%. Analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of 49 cents per share on revenue of $3.29 billion. SBUX also upwardly revised the low end of its full-year guidance, and now expects to rake in a profit of $1.78 to $1.82 per share, compared to analysts' forecast for earnings of $1.83 per share. Furthermore, the company reiterated its projections for 10% revenue growth this year. Ahead of the bell, SBUX is pointed 1.5% lower.

Finally, Ford Motor (F - 12.74) saw its fourth-quarter net income rise to $13.6 billion, or $3.40 per share, thanks in large part to a one-time tax benefit of $12.4 billion. On an adjusted basis, the automaker banked a profit of $1.1 billion, or 20 cents per share, down from last year's earnings of $1.3 billion, or 30 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter rose 6% to $34.6 billion. The results were mixed, as Wall Street was looking for a healthier profit of 25 cents per share on just $32.1 billion in revenue. At last look, F has shed 5.2%.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will also feature reports from Honeywell ( HON ), Chevron ( CVX ), Altria (MO), Legg Mason (LM), and Newell Rubbermaid (NWL). Keep your browser at for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

The week wraps up with the government's fourth-quarter GDP estimate, as well as the final Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment figures for January.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,409,892 call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 914,823 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.65, while the 21-day moving average was 0.61.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended mostly higher today, with energy and resource stocks pacing the regional advance. The U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish remarks on Wednesday have kept a lid on the U.S. currency, which has been a boon for dollar-denominated commodities. Meanwhile, in Seoul, shares of Samsung Electronics rallied after the firm reported healthy sales of its Galaxy smartphone devices. However, Tokyo-listed stocks ended moderately lower, pressured in part by disappointing earnings from tech issues NEC Corp. and Nintendo. By the close, South Korea's Kospi added 0.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.3%, and Japan's Nikkei slid 0.09%. Markets in mainland China remain closed for holiday.

The major European indexes are mixed at midday, as investors wait for the other shoe to drop. Traders are bracing for GDP from the U.S., while Greek government officials have reconvened with private creditors to hammer out the details of a debt restructuring deal. Over in Paris, shares of Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas tumbled in response to downgrades from J.P. Morgan, with the brokerage firm citing Greek debt exposure as one impetus behind the negative notes. At last look, the French CAC 40 and London's FTSE are down 0.4%, and the German DAX has gained 0.2%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The greenback is trading lower this morning, with the U.S. dollar index down 0.2% at last check. Crude oil, meanwhile, is still attempting to conquer the century mark , with the front-month contract up 0.3% at $99.96 per barrel. On the other hand, gold futures have pulled back from year-to-date highs , with the precious metal last seen 0.2% lower at $1,725.80 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: CVX , F , GDP , HON , PG

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