Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Most investors are familiar with Wall Street's curious form of "reasoning" supposedly behind the daily zigs and zags of the market. Most investors know that this reasoning is quite often counterintuitive, short-term focused, or entirely foolhardy. It can also be straightforward and make sense at first sight, but that was not the case today. After hearing that the June trade deficit was far lower than anyone expected, which should boost second-quarter GDP, Wall Street cringed and sold off as if it had heard some horrendous revelation.
You'd think that a narrower trade deficit and higher GDP prospects would be a boon, but traders saw it as merely a hindrance, giving the Fed more reason to taper its bond-buying program. It was in this mind-set that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) dropped 93 points, or 0.6%, to end at 15,518 Tuesday.
Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) ticked up 1.6% before its earnings call this afternoon, as hopeful shareholders bid the stock higher ahead of third-quarter results. But at the time this article was written, Disney had given nearly all of its gains back in after-hours trading as the quarter turned out to be almost precisely what analysts expected. Revenue was a mild disappointment, rising just 4% from the same period last year to $11.58 billion, less than the $11.65 billion some expected. Johnny Depp's Lone Ranger flop bears some responsibility for the sales miss, as Disney's ESPN continued to grow.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) was one of the few companies looking prescient today, adding 0.5% as Zoetis, formerly a division of Pfizer's, posted a 26% decline in net income. Pfizer spun off Zoetis, which specializes in animal health medicines, in February, as the company chose to concentrate its efforts on the treatment of mankind.
Getting to the laggards, it's important to note that 80% of blue chips declined today, so these last two companies were by no means alone in their falls. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) fell 2.2%, following the tech sector lower on its down day. While some analysts think HP's presence in the faltering PC market is a positive catalyst investors are overlooking, more still seem to believe that HP simply needs to refocus on other promising segments like cloud computing -- an area where the company is playing a brutal game of catch-up.
Lastly, IBM (NYSE: IBM ) slumped 2.3%, finishing as the Dow's worst performer. Since IBM is also the Dow's most heavily weighted component, today's decline is a double whammy for the index. A Credit Suisse tech analyst downgraded the shares to underperform from neutral and further trimmed back the price target on shares to $175 from $200. Not only did the downgrade call Big Blue's core business prospects into question, but it suggested shares trade at a premium to its peers for no justifiable reason.
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