Stocks to Watch Today: XOM, CVX, CLX and More

Third-quarter earnings overall have been better than expected.

With some 244 companies reporting, the S&P 500 Index is on pace to post earnings growth of 6%. That's up from growth projections of 5.6% at the start of the week and 4.5% before earnings began.

Today brings results from a couple of energy behemoths, a healthcare giant, and more.

6 Hot Stocks to Watch Friday

stocks to watchHot Stocks to Watch No. 1: Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) will release Q3 results at 8:00 a.m. Friday. The oil titan is expected to post earnings per share (EPS) of $1.75, down from $1.79 in the same quarter a year ago. Whisper numbers have XOM missing EPS estimates by $0.06. The slumping price of oil is just one problem weighing on XOM. The company's production levels have steadily declined for the last five years. XOM has taken on debt to finance its dividend and share buybacks. Further, a number of XOM's forward growth projects are in Russia, but the company is pulling out amid geopolitical issues. XOM has a mean analyst recommendation of "Hold," according to Zacks. Shares are down 7.12% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 2: Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) posts Q3 results before the open. Analysts expect the oil giant to report EPS of $2.59, down $0.02 from a year ago. Whisper numbers have CVX missing EPS by $0.08. At $116, shares are down 7% year to date. Still, CVX has fared better than the overall energy sector, which is down roughly 13% over the same time. CVX looks cheap on a valuation level, with shares trading at a P/E ratio of 11. Also making it attractive are CVX's 3.68% yield and history of annual dividend growth for the last 28 consecutive years. The mean analyst recommendation on CVX is "Buy." The median price target is $136.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 3: The Clorox Co. (NYSE: CLX) will release fiscal Q1 results before market open. Forecasts have EPS at $1.03. Whisper numbers are for $1.06. Clorox has been more popular than usual lately among consumers. The parent company of brands like Formula 409, Pine-Sol, and Glad, as well as its famed namesake brand, said its phones ring nonstop as customers call to find out if its cleaning products kill the Ebola virus. Lysol's Ebola site says its products are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to be used "to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus" in hospitals. However, Lysol notes its products have not been tested to kill the Ebola virus, but "based on their ability to kill similar as well as harder-to-kill viruses, these products are likely to be effective against the Ebola virus." Shares are up 5.75% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 4: ABBVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) is on tap to post Q3 results Friday morning. Wall Street looks for the healthcare company to report EPS of $0.77, a 5.7% decline from $0.82 in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue is expected at $4.82 billion, up 3.5% YOY. AbbVie has consistently beaten sales estimates in the past six quarters and missed EPS expectations in just one of those six quarters. Based near Chicago, ABBV dropped its $55 billion bid for Ireland-based Shire Plc. (Nasdaq ADR: SHPG) last week after new federal regulations made it harder for the company to cut its tax bill through the merger known as a tax inversion.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 5: Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE: D) releases Q3 numbers before today's open. Analysts are looking for the electricity provider to post EPS of $0.96, down from $1 in the same period a year ago. The company just spun off its pipeline and infrastructure business. Its offshoot Dominion Midstream LP (NYSE: DM) raised $350 million in an initial public offering earlier this month. DM will use the money to help fund construction for the Cove Point liquefied natural gas terminal in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. The 136-mile pipeline will send gas collected from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays to the plant. Then, the gas will be cooled into a liquid form that makes it easier to export overseas to Japan and India. Dominion shares are up 9.49% year to date.

Hot Stock to Watch No. 6: Legg Mason Inc. (NYSE: LM) reports fiscal Q2 results before today's open. Expectations are for the public asset management firm to post EPS of $0.33. At the end of September, LM reported preliminary assets under management of $708 billion. AUM included equity inflows of approximately $1.8 billion, fixed income inflows of approximately $0.8 billion and liquidity inflows of approximately $8.8 billion. Shares are up nearly 20% year to date.

Money Morning Tip of the Day: The market remains jittery after this month's stock market sell-off. Yesterday's Fed statements have caused many people to be more cautious than ever.But our Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald, who has analyzed markets for 33 years, says he expects the Fed to take it slow.

"This is the only option the Fed's got to keep people calm, keep the markets calm. Because they know what happens if they do get aggressive. The markets have a hiccup and a pull back. I don't think they want that right now."

As the Fed proceeds slowly, Fitz-Gerald recommends investors look to stocks that provide reliable profit streams and share growth no matter what the Fed does next year. In fact, the Dow's reaction to the Fed yesterday is a perfect example of why this stock is a great buy now...