Caterpillar did better than expected, even raising its outlook. Elsewhere, 3M missed on top and bottom line, despite organic growth of 4.6 percent, partly due to effects of foreign exchange. Organic growth was good in its healthcare segment (6.2 percent) and decent in industrial (4.9 percent) and consumer (2.6 percent).
Dow Transports were at an intraday all-time high yesterday after Delta's excellent earnings yesterday. We'll see if that holds, particularly since UPS missed on the bottom line, blaming unusually harsh weather. Southwest reported earnings slightly above expectations on lower fuel costs.
ETrade became the latest discount broker to report a surge in customer trading, following on similar reports from Charles Schwab and AmeriTrade.
Stanley Black & Decker beat and raised the low end of its 2014 guidance. Sales were up 7 percent year-over-year, with organic growth of 4 percent. The Construction & Do-It-Yourself division, which is the power tool business, is continuing strong, with organic sales up 7 percent year-over-year. That supports the idea that the home improvement market is holding together quite well.
The Industrial segment, which mostly sells industrial and automotive repair tools, was strong as well, with organic growth of 5 percent. The one weak spot was Security, which was down 4 percent, mostly on weak volume in Europe.
However, homebuilders came in fairly mixed. Pulte and Ryland were a bit light on earnings, but DR Horton beat on top and bottom line,. The company benefited from strong sales in Texas. Orders for DHI were up 9 percent, and Ryland rose 6.6 percent, but Pulte's were down 6 percent.. Yesterday Meritage Homes missed on the top and bottom line.
The bottom line: companies are still reporting better trends that the top-line government data reported yesterday. Another point: prices are still going up, offsetting somewhat weaker orders. Ryland said average prices were up 18.1 percent; DR Horton and Pulte noted average sales prices were up 10 percent. This enables most of them to grow margins even if orders were somewhat weaker.