Apple leads trio of Dow profit reports

IPhone maker Apple and two leading U.S. Drugmakers lead the parade of earnings reports Tuesday in what is shaping up to be the best quarterly earnings season since late 2011.

Shares of Apple, which reports after Wall Street’s closing bell, closed $2.95 higher Monday at a fresh record $146.58. The company, which could report that its cash hoard has swelled beyond $250 billion, has seen its shares surge nearly 27% this year. The stock has found new life since billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said last year it had built a big stake in Apple. Buffett then doubled his position to roughly 133 million shares at the start of 2017. Berkshire’s stake in Apple is now valued at an estimated $19.5 billion.

Apple, which is forecast to report earnings of $2.02 per share, up more than 6% from $1.90 a year ago, will look to extend the strong earnings season for the tech sector, which is on track for profit growth of nearly 18%, earnings tracker Thomson Reuters says. Analysts will be eyeing sales of its flagship iPhone. Apple has helped the Dow Jones industrial average climb within 1% of its March 1 high and also powered the tech-dominated Nasdaq to a fresh record Monday.

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Other Dow stocks set to report Tuesday include drugmakers Merck and Pfizer. Analysts expect Merck profits to tumble 7% from a year ago and Pfizer to come in flat at 67 cents a share. The health care sector, overall, is forecast to grow profits 5.7%.

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