Pfizer, Visa Weigh on the Dow Even as Banks Grab All the Attention

It's natural for investors tracking the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  to focus on the huge impact that its banking components are having on the average today. With the Dow down 78 points as of 12:30 p.m. EDT, the index's two big investment banks are among its worst decliners after earnings season for the sector got off to a rocky start. But looking beyond big banks, you'll find some other stocks that are also weighing on the Dow in early afternoon, including Visa  (NYSE: V  ) and Pfizer  (NYSE: PFE  ) .

Visa's drop of about 1.7% today is actually having more of a negative effect on the Dow than either member of the blue-chip index's banking contingent, as its higher share price pulls down the price-weighted average by a bigger margin for a given percentage move. Investors will have to deal with the vast uncertainty associated with retailer lawsuits, which have come back to the forefront as the major companies that chose not to participate in previously settled litigation start to take their turns in court against the card-network giant. Moreover, as investors look at a correction in the stock market as becoming more likely, Visa stands to lose if consumers feel less of a wealth effect and pull back on their spending activity.

Meanwhile, Pfizer's 1.4% decline reflects concern among shareholders over both the recent setbacks it has suffered on the drug-pipeline front and the patent cliff issues that the pharma giant will still have to deal with in the future. With an impressively high dividend yield and a low valuation, Pfizer looks attractive to value investors seeking bargain stocks in what many consider to be an overpriced market. But Pfizer hasn't yet demonstrated an ability to restore revenue growth after massive drops in sales due to recent patent expirations. Without the catalyst of new blockbuster drugs to replace those that have fallen prey to generic competition, Pfizer's stock could fall further despite its rock-bottom earnings multiple.

When the Dow makes a substantial move in either direction, it's always tempting to place all the responsibility on the news stock of the day. But looking beyond the headlines at some of the stocks that most investors will ignore can give you some insight into the longer-term trends for the Dow Jones Industrials. Staying aware of everything going on in the Dow can give you a key edge.

 

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