Coca-Cola Goes Flat as the Dow Struggles

The major U.S. indices are all in the red as investors wait for tomorrow's government jobs reports, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  down 32 points as of 2:35 p.m. EDT. The majority of stocks on the Dow are in the red today, with Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  )  dropping 0.6% to fall among the biggest losers on the day. Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) has declined by 0.6% after a fresh disappointment. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Europe in limbo, Coca-Cola eyes the long term
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's been in the spotlight recently as economists wait on baited breath for news of potential quantitative easing in Europe. However, Draghi today continued to hold off on definitive action despite Europe's ongoing slump. Inflation on the continent has fallen to dangerous lows that have some concerned about possible deflation, a step that could put a screeching halt to any coming gains from the broader European economy. Draghi did say that top central bank officials had considered quantitative easing as a measure to ward off deflation, but until the ECB makes up its mind, Europe remains in limbo. The continent's top stocks won't take too hard of a hit, but companies relying too much on European sales would be in for a tough time if deflation rose across the Atlantic.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Back in the United States, Coca-Cola is struggling against challenges of its own, as investors have soured on the Dow giant this week. The beverage stock has dropped by more than 5% over the past three months as Coca-Cola tries to figure out how best to handle the decline of soft-drink sales in advanced economies, particularly Western Europe and the U.S. Soft-drink sales in the U.S. declined by another 3% last year, although Coca-Cola has managed to stave off domestic pain by gaining market share and crowding out rivals such as PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) .

Coca-Cola increased its American market share by 0.4 percentage points in 2013 and made a big dent in its battle against Pepsi, which saw its soda sales volume fall by 4.4% for the year. While Coca-Cola's dominance is a good sign, investors need to keep a close eye on the long-term outlook. Coca-Cola's immense brand diversity gives it a huge advantage as a good long-term stock to deal with soft drinks falling in popularity, but the company must keep expanding both its brands and its geographical reach to take advantage of global trends.

Outside the Dow, GlaxoSmithKline ended a phase 3 trial of its experimental lung cancer vaccine MAGE-A3. That study itself was initiated after the vaccine failed in an earlier trial to treat the overall lung cancer population. Glaxo had hoped to find a subpopulation of lung cancer patients who responded well to the vaccine; unable to do so, the pharma giant closed out the study rather than push on. Although Glaxo is still conducting a final trial of the vaccine for a subpopulation of melanoma patients, the outlook for this drug has fallen off a cliff. Glaxo's still a promising stock that has picked up well after its China scandal-sparked drop-off last year, but don't expect MAGE-A3 to impact its future much.

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