Tuesday Earnings Roundup: AT&T (T) Stumbles; Apple (AAPL) Up Next

Several more blue-chip companies reported earnings this morning. But the day’s main event comes after the market closes when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) reports.

AT&T (NYSE: T), Altria (NYSE: MO) and UPS (NYSE: UPS) were among the big-name companies that reported second-quarter earnings this morning, with mixed results. All were prelude to the Apple earnings call, which begins at 5 p.m. eastern.

Even for Apple, expectations are somewhat muted – at least compared to the company’s usual lofty standards. Fewer iPhone sales are anticipated as customers wait out the release of a new iPhone 5 this fall.

Analysts are projecting revenue of $37.2 billion – well ahead of the company’s $28.6 billion in revenue during the same quarter a year ago, but trailing the $39.2 billion it generated in the first quarter.

Of course, if Apple exceeds those projections it could help spur a turnaround in the Nasdaq, which is getting beaten down for a third straight session. The tech stock-heavy index has fallen 1% on Tuesday and 3.5% since last Thursday.

Stocks as a whole were down again today. This morning’s batch of so-so earnings reports didn’t help matters.

Here were a few of the day’s highlights and lowlights:

  • AT&T: Profits at the telecommunications giant grew 8.7% from the prior year, driven largely by the company’s burgeoning wireless division. But the stock fell 3% in part because its smartphone sales declined from the previous quarter. Still, at more than $34 a share the stock remains within two dollars of its four-year high.
  • Altria: The Richmond, Virginia-based cigarette maker saw its earnings triple in the second quarter thanks largely to higher prices. Like AT&T, however, Altria’s shares have fallen slightly in afternoon trading in part because the stock was already trading near 52-week highs prior to earnings.
  • UPS: In a true sign of the weakening global economy, this bellwether stock dropped 5% today after a less-than-flattering earnings report. The largest package-delivery company in the world saw a decline in its international package sales, dragging profits below what analysts were estimating.
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