Biggest Stock Market News Today: Earnings, Upgrades, and Downgrades to Watch

Stock Market News Today, Jan. 13: Stocks are slightly defensive today as investors brace for fourth-quarter earnings season, which kicked off Friday with Alcoa's disappointing results.

Today, The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.2% at 16,400 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 is down 0.2% at 1,8139 points. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index is up 0.02% at 4,175 points.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) stock is up about 0.5% today after Friday's 8% plunge. The aluminum industry leader reported lackluster earnings Thursday after the bell. Operating earnings per share (EPS) was $0.04, short of the analyst consensus of $0.06 per share. Its first-quarter guidance was also short of the Street view.

Meanwhile, oil futures are retreating after Iran agreed to a program that would scale back its nuclear efforts. Light, sweet crude oil for February delivery is down 0.7% at $92.03 per barrel, while heating oil for February delivery is down 0.1% at $2.94 per gallon. Natural gas is up a significant 4.8% at $4.25 per million BTUs.

As stocks and oil futures are weighed today, metals futures are trading up. Gold for February delivery is up 0.3% at $1,250 per ounce and silver for March delivery is up 0.1% at $20.25 per ounce.

Stocks Today Reacting to Company Guidance

Several companies today are offering new guidance for the fourth quarter ahead of their investor meetings. These forecast adjustments and preliminary results are triggering significant stock-price movements.

Among the gainers on new guidance, The Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq: WEN) shares are up about 7% after the company reported same-store sales rose 3.1% in the fourth quarter and rose 1.9% in fiscal 2013.

Wendy's expects earnings of $0.10 per share to $0.11 per share in the fourth quarter and $0.29 per share to $0.30 per share in fiscal 2013. That compares to Street estimates of $0.06 per share and $0.24 per share, respectively. Wendy's shares are easing off a day high so far of $9.27, quite close to its 52-week high of $9.51.

In contrast, these stocks are weighed in their new guidance and seeing heavier trading volume than average...

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) is down more than 15% today, with about 17 million shares already trading hands, versus an average daily volume of 3.75 million.

Lululemon, which also proffered lower earnings estimate range that included the Street view, marked a two-year low today at $49.00.

Lululemon said today it expects fourth-quarter revenue to range from $513 million to $518 million, down from the $535 million to $540 million it previously expected. The new guidance is also below the Street view of $540 million in revenue.

And Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (Nasdaq: CBRL) shares are down about 2% at $108.26 today after it said same-store sales slid in November and December due to bad weather, which will bode poorly for its second-quarter results. Still, Cracker Barrel maintained its guidance for the second-quarter earnings of $1.50 per share to $1.60 per share.

Analyst Actions Move Stocks Today: Twitter at $65?

Finally, several stocks today are moving on analyst upgrades, downgrades, and price target changes.

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) is up about 3% after its price target was increased to $65 from $46 at Goldman Sachs.

Cree Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE) is down 8% after Stifel Nicolaus downgraded it to Hold from Buy, while Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC) is up about 2% after UBS upgraded it to Buy from Neutral.

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