Pfizer Stock Is Holding Back the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is unchanged following a worse-than-expected earnings release from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) and some mixed economic releases. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is up just six points, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up about two points.

There were two U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Actual

Previous

Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index

February

0.3%

0.1%

Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index

April

68.1

61.9

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The key metric here is consumer confidence, as the Case-Shiller home price index data is for February. However, it should be noted that average home prices rose 9.3% year over year -- the largest gain since 2006. Consumer confidence was expected to decline slightly to 61.3, but it surprised analysts, rising to 68.1 from March's 61.9. Still, it's still too early to tell how consumers are doing. The past few months have seen multiple disappointing updates on the job market, and the payroll tax hike and high gas prices are only helping to hinder the economy's growth.

The second big piece of news today is that Pfizer reported earnings that missed analyst expectations. The stock is pulling down the Dow, sinking 3.4%. The pharmaceutical giant reported EPS excluding one-time items of $0.54, worse than analyst expectations of $0.56. Revenue was down 9% from last year to $13.5 billion, worse than analyst expectations of $14 billion. Pfizer has been hurting since Lipitor went off patent in the U.S. in 2011 and in Europe in March of last year. Lipitor used to bring in more than $10 billion in sales per year, but that has been declining quickly. In the first quarter sales were down 55% year over year to $626 million.

The main reason the stock is down, though, is that Pfizer lowered its earnings forecast by $0.06 to between $2.14 and $2.24 for 2013. That's more than enough to continue funding Pfizer's ample dividend of $0.24 per quarter -- that's a yield of 3.2% after today's drop. Pfizer is a member of the 2013 Dogs of the Dow, as it started the year with the fifth-highest yield in the Dow.

Today's Dow leader is American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) , up 0.9%, as increased consumer confidence and rising home prices will lead to higher consumer spending than previously expected. American Express reported earnings two weeks ago that beat analyst expectations on the bottom line but missed on the top line. The company also announced a large buyback and an increase of its dividend to $0.23 per share for a yield of 1.35%. While Buffett is a large shareholder of American Express, Motley Fool analyst Matt Koppenheffer thinks a different credit card company is your best bet for the next 20 years; you can read on here to find out who.

With Pfizer's business slowing and American Express' yield paltry, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report on "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.


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