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Stocks Hold Steady as October Draws to a Close; Avon Plunges, Expedia Soars

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

It was a relatively quiet Halloween on Wall Street. Stocks hugged the flatline as traders wrapped up October and likely unwrapped some candies too. There won't be a monthly jobs report tomorrow due to delays from the government shutdown. However, today brought the usual report on weekly jobless claims. The Labor Department says there were 340,000 new claims, down 10,000 from last week but 5,000 above estimates.

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Dow component Exxon Mobil (XOM) had a respectable beat on earnings. The company made $1.79 a share, 2-cents above estimates. Revenues were nearly $5-billion above consensus at $112.37-billion versus $107.39-billion. Despite the beat revenue was down 2.4% from a year ago and profits dropped 18% on weaker refining margins. On the upside, the company is citing growth in exploration and production.

Cigna (CI) moved higher today on one of the strongest earnings reports we've seen this season. The insurer reported EPS of $1.89 compared to estimates that called for $1.63. Revenues also raced past expectations at $8.07-billion versus $7.24-billion. The company also raised its full-year earnings outlook citing growth in members. Cigna's larger competitor, Aetna, missed on its earnings estimates when it reported on Tuesday.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) also climbed on an earnings beat despite warnings about its outlook. The company made $1.69 a share, 4-cents better than expectations but said its subscriber base took a hit from the company's month-long CBS blackout. Revenues were in fact slightly below expectation at $5.52-billion versus $5.54-billion.

Avon (AVP) plunged more than 20% on an ugly earnings miss. The company made 14-cents a share for the quarter which was a nickel below expectations. Sales also failed to meet estimates at $2.26-billion compared to $2.44-billion. It was hard to gussy up the numbers with CEO Sheri McCoy labeling the period a tough one. She blamed macroeconomic headwinds and weakness in North American.

Sony (SNE) sank double-digits as it swung to a loss for the quarter. The Tokyo-based tech company says it was pulled into the red by its sagging television business. You may recall, investor Daniel Loeb has been calling for Sony to separate its ailing electronics unit from its more successful entertainment wing. Prior to this morning shares of Sony were up 69% year-to-date, largely on Loeb's activist pursuits.

Facebook (FB) remained relatively flat in reaction to its Q3 earnings report, though it briefly spiked 18% after yesterday's closing bell. The company had what amounts to a blockbuster quarter earning 25-cents a share on $2.016-billion in revenues when estimates were for 19-cents a share on $1.911-billion in sales. Those headline numbers are what initially drove shares higher. However, reading further into the company's report there is concern that the site fading in popularity with young teens.

Starbucks (SBUX) was pretty chill after its earnings. The coffee king beat profit estimates of 60-cents a share and posted 63-cents a share. That was up from 46-cents a year ago. Revenue was just a tad shy of expectations at $3.8-billion dollars. Starbucks says traffic at its stores is up 5% from a year ago. Same-store sales are up 7%. But the company issued guidance for 2014 that's below analyst estimates. Starbucks stock hit an all-time high above $81 a week ago Tuesday.

Expedia (EXPE) nearly made up for year-to-date losses of 20% with a spike today on its earnings. The company made $1.43 a share beating estimates by 8-cents. Revenues were also above expectations at $1.4-billion. Expedia says its sales were up 17% over last year. The gains are due largely to an increase in referrals from Trip Advisor.

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