Home / Markets News & Opinions / Dow Sputters as 5th-Largest Stock Unexpectedly Whiffs on Earnings

Dow Sputters as 5th-Largest Stock Unexpectedly Whiffs on Earnings

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:11 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:11 PM

The Dow sputtered toward an underwhelming session on Tuesday after the index’s fifth-largest stock whiffed on earnings, punishing investors who sought harbor in its familiar brand name as a defensive play against the trade war and other festering risks.

Dow Flatlines as S&P 500 Grinds Toward Record High

Wall Street’s major indices all traded cautiously as earnings season  continued to mature. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked 8.28 points or 0.03% higher to 26,835.92.

dow jones industrial average chart
The Dow traded sideways on Tuesday after its fifth-largest stock reported earnings. | Source: Yahoo Finance

The S&P 500 rose 5.2 points or 0.17% to 3,011.89. The large-cap index now sits within inches of setting a new all-time high above 3,027.98, the mark it set in July.

The Nasdaq outperformed with a 26.60 point or 0.33% advance to 8,189.20.

McDonald’s Earnings Knock the Wind Out of the Dow

Dow futures had nervously pointed to slight gains for much of the pre-market session, but the optimism wavered when fast-food stalwart McDonald’s reported earnings that failed to meet analyst forecasts .

Flashy menu offerings from smaller competitors like Burger King (Impossible Whopper ) and Popeyes (new fried chicken sandwich) appear to have eaten into McDonald’s earnings, which came in at $2.11 per share versus a consensus Refinitiv estimate of $2.21.

mcondald's q3 earnings report
McDonald’s earnings came in below analyst estimates. | Source: emka74/Shutterstock.com

The increased competition – including viral events like the “chicken sandwich war ” between Popeyes and Chic-fil-A – also diminished US same-store sales, which grew just 4.8% vs. 5.2% expected.

However, a 5.9% growth in global same-store sales beat the expected 5.6% bump, allowing investors to find a silver lining despite a further miss in revenue ($5.4 billion vs. $5.5 billion expected).

Along with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s ranks as one of the Dow’s most popular defensive stocks. It’s also the index’s fifth-largest component, holding a 5.31% weighting, as of Monday’s close.

MCD shares fell 3.65% during the morning session.

DJIA Giant Boeing Reports Earnings Tomorrow

The Dow’s most heavily weighted component, Boeing, is expected to report third-quarter earnings before the opening bell on Wednesday. Investors have already braced for a titanic plunge in quarterly profit , as well as a 22% slide in revenue, both byproducts of the 737 Max’s worldwide grounding.

Boeing stock is clinging to narrow gains for 2019, but its well-documented struggles have presented the Dow with major headwinds, which is one reason the S&P 500 is on the brink of setting a new all-time high and the Dow is not.

boeing stock vs. Dow and S&P 500
As the S&P 500 (red) races toward record highs, Boeing stock (black) is weighing on the Dow (blue). | Source: Yahoo Finance

The beleaguered aerospace company has been scrambling to get the 737 Max approved to resume flights but faces enhanced scrutiny following the release of three-year-old messages that raise questions about the firm’s internal culture and commitment to safety standards.

Former US presidential candidate Ralph Nader, whose great-niece died in the second tragic 737 Max crash in March, continues to demand that CEO Dennis Muilenburg and the entire Boeing C-Suite resign.

Nevertheless, United Technologies Chief Financial Officer Akhil Johri said that he expects Boeing – one of its most important customers – to continue producing 42 737 Max planes per month  throughout the remaining two months of the year, though it’s not clear whether that will change in 2020.