Stocks Opened Higher, Led by Techs

Stocks edged higher at the open on Wednesday, with technology stocks among the best performers after earnings from Google (GOOG) and IBM (IBM). The Dow Jones industrial average lately gained 58.12 points, or 0.42 percent, to 13,770.33. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.05 point to 1,492.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 12.58 points, or 0.40 percent, to 3,155.76.

Google (US:GOOG) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $2.89 billion, or $8.62 a share, compared with $2.71 billion or $8.22 a share for the year-earlier period. Revenue minus traffic acquisition costs was $11.34 billion, up from $8.13 billion.

International Business Machines Corp.’s fourth-quarter earnings increased 6.3% as the technology heavyweight’s software sales and margins strengthened, though overall revenue declined slightly.

IBM reported a profit of $5.83 billion, or $5.13 a share, up from $5.49 billion or $4.62 a share a year earlier. Revenue slipped 0.6% to $29.3 billion.

McDonald’s Corp. says its profit edged up in the fourth quarter. But the company warned that a key sales figure is expected to fall this month. It earned $1.4 billion, or $1.38 per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That compares with $1.38 billion, or $1.33 per share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $6.95 billion, up from $6.82 billion.

WellPoint Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings jumped 38 percent compared to the final quarter of 2011. The Indianapolis company earned $464.2 million, or $1.51 per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That’s up from $335.3 million, or 96 cents per share, in the last quarter of 2011. Excluding the investment and tax settlement gains and other adjustments, earnings totaled $1.03 per share.

Swiss drug maker Novartis AG reported a jump in fourth-quarter net profit to $2.08 billion on Wednesday. Net profit during the final quarter of last year rose 72 percent from the $1.21 billion net profit posted in the final three months of 2011.

Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE:MSI) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter operating earnings rose 53% to $423 million, or $1.18 a share, from $276 million, or 54 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted profit rose to $1.10 a share from 87 cents a share. Sales increased by 6% to $2.44 billion.

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