5 Stocks to Keep an Eye On This Earnings Season

On Tuesday afternoon, a barrage of earnings releases began with Alcoa (NYSE:AA). Alcoa’s earnings used to be important given that aluminum is used in numerous industrial and consumer products, given its relative size, and given that it is the first company to report earnings after the end of a quarter. But Alcoa has shrunk, having been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average a couple of years back, and its earnings are now less important.

Which companies’ earnings, then, should we pay attention to in order to determine the relative strength of the American and global economies, and which companies’ earnings will set the tone going forward as we begin the second half of the year? While there are several, I have singled out five that I think will give investors a solid overall picture of economic activity.

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1. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Intel makes computer chips that are found in a large percentage of PCs and Macs. What Intel has to say will have significant implications regarding the state of the global economy: consumers buy computers when they are feeling good about the economy and when they have disposable income, and businesses buy them when they want to expand or when they can afford to replace aging equipment.

Rather than looking at earnings from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), or Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ) for answers, look to Intel to provide an overview of this industry and its future.