The books are now closed on April, leaving a pungent distaste in the mouths of investors as the seven-month rally for the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) came to an end. The Nasdaq closed the day as the worst performer of the three major U.S indices, down 0.74%, while the Dow finished the month at 13,213, down 0.11% on the day.
The macroeconomic news of the day played a minor role in today's activities. The biggest macro news once again concerns Spain, which becomes the eighth European country to enter into recession so far in 2012. On the domestic side, business activity expanded at its lowest clip since 2009.
The storyline for today involved an unlikely pairing between the struggling brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) and omnipresent Microsoft. The computer giant will invest $300 million into a joint spinoff of B&N's Nook digital and college businesses. Microsoft's stake in this new venture is 17.6% while B&N will own the rest, with a total valuation around $1.7 billion. After the announcement was disclosed, B&N saw its share price appreciate by more than 100%, and the stock closed the day up 51%.
Another interesting storyline involving a Dow component was Coca-Cola's rumored involvement with Monster Beverage (Nasdaq: MNST ) . News was circulating that Coca-Cola was undergoing a series of conversations with the intent of purchasing Monster, which saw its share price rise by 28%. However, as the market was closing, Coke denied the rumor, depressing Monster's shares back to pre-rumor levels.
Although the Dow closed the day in the red, a few companies bucked the trend and turned in a good day's performance:
Kraft Foods, up 1.19%
Kraft had some good action today, primarily on an earlier report from JPMorgan analysts that upgraded the stock from neutral to overweight and revised the target share price to $45, up 13% from the current price. Kraft's guidance for the remainder of 2012 looks positive, which will help bring in sentiment before the company splits its snacks and grocery lines into two separate businesses, which is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Merck (NYSE: MRK ) , up 2.03%
The drugmaker's subsidiaries won a patent-infringement case against Sigma Pharmaceuticals over asthma drugs being imported from Poland to the U.K. This can be seen as good news because of the amount of outstanding proceeding the company is facing.
Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , up 0.88%
Cisco had some good price movement today after providing second-quarter guidance numbers that were higher than analyst forecasts. The company predicted revenue in the ballpark of $46.5 million to $48.5 million, which is anywhere from 0.1% to 4% over current expectations.
Now that April is past, creating a hiccup on the outstanding growth we have witnessed in the past two years, I believe now is another great time to invite you to look at some of the top stocks for 2012. If you don't already have these stocks in your portfolio, now might be the time to add them -- or, at the minimum, see what they have to offer. Our analysts have picked five investments that all investors will need to be familiar with. This report is free for a limited time. Don't let 2012 slip by without cashing in on these great stocks.