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Earnings Season Disappointments Drag on Dow

US – Even though Wall Street saw more gainers than decliners today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) stubbornly slipped 43 points, or 0.3%, to end at 14,676. The blue-chip index was plagued by a handful of companies that failed to excite investors — in one way or another — during one of the four most important times of the year: Earnings Season, Round 2.

That said, Microsoft  (NASDAQ: MSFT) refused to lose Wednesday, adding 3.8% after a double dose of good news. For one, the market applauded Monday’s announcement by hedge fund ValueAct Capital — within which it touted its newly acquired $2 billion stake in Microsoft. ValueAct, as an activist fund, has investors licking their lips about a potential shakeup of top management.

The second catalyst for Microsoft’s stock came as the company officially announced that the new Xbox console will be unveiled at a special event on May 21.

Now, for the disappointments: Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) was by far the hardest-hit of the day, cratering 6.6% after its weak profit outlook sent shares to their sharpest single-day drop in more than four years. P&G was actually able to beat on earnings, but the discouraging forecasts combined with revenue that wasn’t quite up to snuff left shareholders with a sour taste in their mouths.

P&G shareholders can at least take solace in knowing that AT&T (NYSE: T) investors went on a similarly unpleasant ride Wednesday. Stock in the telecom giant stumbled 5% after painting a bleak picture of its own. Not only was revenue down, but AT&T also lost cell phone service subscribers in the period.

While Cisco Systems‘ (NASDAQ: CSCO) 2.5% stumble today doesn’t even touch the two weaklings of the Dow, it’s not insignificant, either. The go-to provider of all sorts of networking and technology equipment won’t be out with earnings until May 15. So what gives? Well, extremely weak guidance from a competitor did the trick today, as Juniper Networks slipped almost 10% after earnings projections for the current quarter failed to impress anyone.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. This article was written by John Divine, and first published on fool.com