Merck and Coke Fall as Analysts Change Opinions

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.

As the government shutdown continues and we draw ever closer to the debt ceiling, the markets continue to rally on hopes of a compromise in Washington. As of 1 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is higher by 96 points, or 0.64%, while the S&P 500 has risen 0.56% and the NASDAQ is up 0.78%. Within the Dow, there are currently only seven losers at the time of writing, while the other 23 components are gaining. Let's take a look at two of the big downers.

Shares of Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) are down 0.4%, likely because of an analyst downgrade at Jefferies. The firm lowered its rating on the stock from buy to hold and cut its price target on the stock from $53 to $50. Jefferies said deteriorating business fundamentals and a smaller-than-expected cost-cutting program were two of the main reasons for the change. Just recently Merck announced that it will restructure and cut $2.5 billion in expenses over the next few years. 

Another Dow component likely also falling lower because of an analyst change is Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) , down 0.26% after Wells Fargo cut Coke's price target from the $45 to $47 range to between $41 and $43. The reasoning given was the belief that the beverage industry will likely see lower volume in the future due to pressure from health-conscious consumers.  

Jefferies' downgrade of Merck is just another recent analyst proclamation regarding the stock: On Wednesday we saw Credit Suisse open coverage on the stock with a "neutral" rating. And while Wells Fargo's Coke markdown is one of the more recent analyst moves pertaining to the company, it is based on old news: Volumes are down, and people aren't drinking as much soda. My point is that these rating changes happen all the time, and investors shouldn't get too caught up in them. Instead, they should be studying the companies' business models and financials before making a buy or sell decision.

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