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Day of Calm for Traders Despite Windfall of Earnings

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks ended flat, and the relative calm was probably welcomed after yesterday's momentary dive in prices triggered by a bogus news tweet. On the economic front, durable goods orders for March disappointed. The Commerce Department says its tally tumbled 5.7%, the sharpest drop in seven months. Economists polled by Reuters had been expecting a decrease, but predicted it would be less than half the actual number.

Apple (AAPL) closed down 0.12%, as investors picked through the details of the company's quarterly earnings report. Apple beat estimates, posting earnings of $10.09 a share on $43.6 billion dollars in revenue. But there was a steep drop in profits from last year even though revenues have risen 11%. Digging deeper into the report: the company sold 37.4 million iPhones, a rise of more than 2 million from a year ago. It also sold 19.5 million iPads compared to 11.8 million in the period a year earlier. However, Apple's gross margins narrowed to 37.5%, down 10% from a year ago. But the company is trying to appease shareholders by upping its dividend by 15% and adding $50 billion to its share buyback program, which now totals $60 billion --the largest in history.

Ford (F) shares were down slightly today, despite the fact that the automaker is on a roll here at home. The company posted its best profits ever for North America last quarter. However, its European losses widened. Overall the automaker earned 41-cents a share excluding charges, topping estimates of 37-cents and also beat on revenue.

Boeing (BA) ascended more than 3% today after beating quarterly estimates on both the top and bottom lines. The plane maker posted earnings of $1.73 per share, soaring above estimates of $1.49. Boeing is not taking any special charges related to its troubled 787 Dreamliner which looks like it's about to get off the ground again soon.

Shares of Procter and Gamble (PG) sank nearly 6% after the company released an earnings report that missed on revenue. Its forecast for the fiscal year also came in below the current consensus from analysts. The company did beat on earnings, posting profits of 99-cents a share when expectations were for 96-cents.

Whirlpool (WHR) got drained a bit today with shares falling over 2% after its earnings report. The company had a familiar tale to tell: it beat on earnings but fell short on revenue, posting profits of $1.97 a share on sales of $17.69 billion. Adjusted earnings are up 40% from last year, largely due to improvements in the housing market. Whirlpool was up more than 3% yesterday ahead of the report, hitting a new 52-week high.

The Jones Group (JNY) nearly 3% on reports it's regrouping. The parent company of clothing chains including Nine West, Jones New York, Anne Klein, and Easy Spirit is closing about 170 stores nationwide by the middle of next year. Jones will also cut its workforce by about 8%. The move will mark a shift by the company to focus more on its wholesale division which supplies department stores. Sales at the company's retail outlets were down about 7% this past holiday season.