After a stellar start to 2012, the stock market looks like it may be starting to hit a wall. Between division within the Federal Reserve about whether a QE3 bond-buying episode should happen and more uncertainty coming from Greece, the market ignored some positive economic data today and moved sharply lower. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) finished the day down 97 points to 12,781.
But a few stocks managed to buck the trend and rise. Let's turn to some of them.
Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) , up 0.2%
In general, the down market wasn't particularly kind to financial stocks. Viewed in that light, Travelers avoiding a big drop was an unexpected result.
Yet the insurance company also hasn't participated in the rally that started the year. Weak earnings threw a wrench in the company's attempted recovery from a disaster-prone 2011. Yet analysts still expect a full recovery for 2012, and if Travelers can get any cooperation from Mother Nature, it will probably be able to deliver on those hopes.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , up 0.1%
P&G had the news item of the day as it agreed to sell its Pringles division to Kellogg (NYSE: K ) for $2.7 billion. Kellogg was one of the rare big winners in the market, jumping more than 5% on the news as the cereal company stands to nearly triple its snack sales worldwide.
Still, the deal has to come as mixed news for P&G. Because the deal is structured as an all-cash transaction, it comes with a big tax bite. In contrast, the original sale to Diamond Foods would have been tax-free because P&G aimed to take Diamond shares in exchange for the division. Given Diamond's turmoil, P&G shareholders are probably just as happy to pay their tax bill and take the money and run.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) , up 0.1%
On a big down day for the market, J&J is doing exactly what you'd expect: letting smart investors play defense. The company didn't have any big news today, unless you count a somewhat-expected move from the Venezuelan government to regulate prices on personal care products in an attempt to combat inflation.
Unquestionably, J&J stands to lose from European turmoil. The company gets more than a quarter of its revenue from Europe, and a slowdown there will have negative ramifications -- especially if it comes with further weakening of the euro against the U.S. dollar. In the long run, though, shareholders will likely expect those effects to be minimal and for J&J to reassume its role as a stalwart stock.
What will Thursday bring?
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