Pfizer and Merck Ride the Dow's Triple-Digit Surge

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.

Stocks are booming today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has repeatedly ridden Wall Street's momentum back above the 16,000-point mark again. The blue-chip index, though, was at 15,992 as of 2:32 p.m. EST, with nearly all of its member stocks up in the green.

Big Pharma's having a mixed session so far, with Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) down 0.03% and Merck (NYSE: MRK  )  up 0.8%, while diversified health-care giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) hasn't had much success today. However, it's been Johnson & Johnson that's made the most of things this year for investors.

No patent cliff blues for Johnson & Johnson
The patent cliff has singed sales at many Big Pharma leaders such as Pfizer and Merck. These two companies have seen drug revenue decline 9% and 8%, respectively, year over year through the first nine months of 2013. Pfizer's Lipitor has taken a huge dive, as the once-best-selling drug has seen generic competition erode its power. Meanwhile, Merck's Singulair over has imploded after losing its own patent protection, falling from blockbuster to also-ran.

But that hasn't been the case at Johnson & Johnson. The company has avoided the worst of the patent cliff thus far in 2013. Through the year's first nine months, only one of Johnson & Johnson's top six best-selling drugs saw revenue decline year over year. Remicade, long J&J's top product and one of the best-selling drugs across the world, has continued its steady march higher by growing sales by 7% year over year through the first nine months of 2013.

But can Remicade continue to carry Johnson & Johnson? The drug has several years of patent exclusivity left, and although competition remains fierce with immunology rivals such as AbbVie's Humira and Pfizer's own Enbrel also ranking among the world's top-selling drugs, the growing threat of rheumatoid arthritis and other immunology ailments look to keep Remicade humming for J&J.

Even if the drug can't grow sales at 7% again in 2014 and beyond, J&J has enough fast-growing products in its arsenal that it should be a fine play for the long term for any investor. From up-and-comers like type 2 diabetes therapy Invokana -- a projected blockbuster -- to rapid gainers like Xarelto, Johnson & Johnson's future looks to be in safe hands.

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