September 7, 2010

Dow Index: Third-Quarter Earnings to Drop 1%

Blue-chip companies are expected to earn slightly less than they did last quarter, but 27% more than they did a year ago, analysts say.

Third-quarter earnings of the 30 blue-chip companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average may slip 1.3% from the second quarter of 2010, according to the average estimates of securities analysts compiled by Dow Jones Indexes.

The total of the average estimates is $27.08 a share for the Dow companies, compared with actual reported earnings in the second quarter of $27.45 -- which were the highest since mid-2007.

According to Dow Jones Indexes' data, released on September 7, 17 of the Dow companies -- slightly more than half -- are expected to report lower earnings than they reported in the second period, while 13 should report higher earnings.

Overall, the projected earnings should be up 27% from those reported in the third quarter of 2009, when the 30 Dow companies earned $21.28 a share.

"The earnings estimates clearly reflect the widely acknowledged slowdown in economic recovery," said John Prestbo, executive director and editor, Dow Jones Indexes, in a statement.

Of the companies forecasted to report lower earnings, the average expected decline is 18%. The range is from a 3% drop (for Boeing Co.) to a 74% plunge (for DuPont Co.).

The average increase for those companies expected to report higher earnings is 35%, ranging from a gain of 1.5% (for Travelers Cos. ) to a leap of 242% (for Merck & Co.) - not including Verizon Communications Inc., which is expected to report a profit of $0.54 a share against a quarter-earlier loss of $0.07 a share.

Dow Jones Indexes, which calculates and distributes the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is a joint venture of CME Group Inc. and Dow Jones & Co., a News Corp. company.

In addition to blue-chip firms like AT&T and Coca-Cola, the index includes financial companies like American Express, Bank of America and Travelers.

Bank of America (BAC), the parent company of broker-dealer Merrill Lynch, is expected to report earnings of $0.18 per share for the third quarter, down from $0.27 in the second quarter but up sharply for a loss of $0.26 a share one year ago.

American Express (AXP) should have earnings of $0.83 per share, slightly below last quarter's $0.84 and up nicely from last year's $0.54.

Travelers (TRV) is anticipated to report earnings of $1.38 per share vs. $1.39 in the second quarter and $1.61 a year ago.

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