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The markets have taken a beating today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) leaving investors shaking their heads with a 193-point fall as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. All but two of its blue-chip member stocks are down for the day. Despite a positive economic report this morning, Dow laggard Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) has fallen near the bottom of the index in losing 2.1% -- behind only the Dow's worst stock on the day, United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , which has slipped 2.3%. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Retail noses higher, but stocks plummet
The economy kicked things off on a positive note for such a downbeat day, when the Commerce Department showed that retail sales moved higher by 0.3% in February. The seasonally adjusted gain marked the first jump in retail sales in three months after January and December delivered sharp drops for the sector; adjusted department reports for those two months showed losses that were even worse than initially reported. The weather's likely the biggest culprit for those two months' lackluster performance, but the retail sector overall has found growth wanting over the past year. Don't expect sales gains to come in leaps and bounds in the coming months; a slow trickle of growth is more likely, even as the weather improves.
That's no consolation to Big Pharma's Pfizer, whose fall comes despite positive news of its own. Standout vaccine Prevnar 13 already has become one of the company's best-sellers, and Pfixzer announced that Prevnar vaccination in testing greatly reduced the likelihood of seniors contracting pneumonia or other pneumococcal diseases. Pneumonia rates were cut by a whopping 46% in the 85,000-member trial
How big could the study be for Pfizer? Prevnar already rakes in about $4 billion in annual sales for the company, but analysts project that the strong showing could add up to $1.5 billion in annual sales for the vaccine down the road, with J.P. Morgan projecting a possible $300 million in adult sales from the vaccine by next year. That's little consolation for investors with the stock's drop today, but in the long run it's a great win for Pfizer as it beefs up its sales portfolio after the patent expiration of Lipitor.
United Technologies sits at the bottom of the index after the industrial conglomerate left investors disappointed today. The company announced a long-term revenue target that anticipatesannual growth of middle single-digit percentages through 2020. UTC also projected sales of roughly $64 billion in 2014, a slight gain after recording 9% sales growth in fiscal year 2013. However, the company's projection of $1.25 per-share first-quarter earnings today fell below analyst expectations of $1.38 per share, and investors have to hope that UTC is right about a brightening future for beleaguered helicopter-making subsidiary Sikorsky, which dragged down sales last quarter in seeing revenue fall 13% year over year. In today's budget-tightening world of the Department of Defense, however, don't grow too optimistic about that just yet.
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