Cisco, Big Pharma Lead the Dow's Pop

After losing steam in the late morning, the markets have roared back in afternoon trading on the back of well-received economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) had gained nearly 100 points as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. Tech giant Cisco  (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) ranks among the Dow's best stocks today in gaining more than 3.3%, while Big Pharmas Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) have bounced back from yesterday's losses behind welcome news. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Consumer confidence jumps and Cisco seeks answers
The Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence jumped by a full 4 percentage points to 82.3 in March. That's far better than economists had projected and speaks well of consumers bouncing back from the harsh winter. It's a particularly good sign especially for retailers, which have endured a painful sting from the recession's aftermath and haven't found any traction with the winter weather that kept shoppers away in recent months.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few blue-chip stocks are moving like tech's Cisco today. Investors have rallied behind the company's $1 billion plan to launch its own cloud computing services, seeking to carve out a piece of a competitive but up-and-coming niche. The opportunity is huge for Cisco. Cloud computing leader Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) has reaped billions of dollars in annual revenue from its cloud services, according to analyst estimates. If Cisco can replicate even a fraction of that success, it'll breathe fire into what's become a downward trend in this network specialist's financial performance. Cisco's leadership expects further falling revenue in the current quarter, and taking advantage of the cloud's power to bring in sales would help the company right the ship in the long term.

Meanwhile, Merck's stock has gained 2.5% to rank among the top Dow members of the day. The company's aim to sell off its consumer health business has received a warm welcome on Wall Street, and Merck won another boost today on reports that French pharma rival Sanofi is looking to enter the race for the purchase of the business. Analysts believe that Merck's unit could earn up to $12 billion for the division, and that's great news for this company's investors. While Merck's stock has done well lately, flagging sales and so-so pipeline have left investors twisting. Refocusing on its core businesses and earning a big reward from this sale is the best outcome for Merck and its investors.

Rival Pfizer is making waves today as well, with the stock up 1.2% so far. Pfizer's lung cancer drug Xalkori, which was first approved by regulators back in 2011, hit another big mark today after the company announced that the therapy beat chemotherapy in holding off progression of lung cancer for a trial of previously untreated patients. That's a huge win for this up-and-coming drug's outlook. Xalkori already makes more than $300 million in annual sales, but analysts believe that it could become a blockbuster with possibly more than $1 billion in annual revenue in the near future. Today's stellar results should help Xalkori add to Pfizer's strong portfolio moving ahead.

Start your journey to stock market riches today
Millions of Americans have waited on the sidelines since the market meltdown in 2008 and 2009, too scared to invest and put their money at further risk. Yet those who've stayed out of the market have missed out on huge gains and put their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2889590, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/24/2014 6:48:20 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement