The stock market held its ground on Monday, ending with modest gains on a day that didn't bring much in the way of economic data. Wall Street's sole focus now is on earnings season, a fact that worked against shareholders in Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM ) , Pfizer, (NYSE: PFE ) , and The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX ) . One of these companies hasn't even reported earnings yet, but the mere anxiety surrounding the impending results was still enough to dent shares. The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) , for its part, added 3 points, or 0.2%, to end at 1,884.
Whole Foods Market is the only one of today's three laggards that hasn't yet announced earnings. Still, the market seems confident that the company will disappoint, an opinion evidenced by Whole Foods' 2.8% drop today. I think skepticism over its long-term prospects is well-founded: While Whole Foods has been remarkably successful to date, there's no stopping competitors from cashing in on the organic food craze. The stock was downgraded today by Wolfe Research and its price target was cut by Oppenheimer ahead of tomorrow's second-quarter results.
Shares of Pfizer lost 2.6% today, as the pharmaceutical giant reported sales significantly below expectations. While net income jumped 12%, revenue actually fell by 9% in the first quarter to $11.35 billion. Sales of the arthritis drug Celebrex, which could lose its patent protection at the end of this month, missed Wall Street forecasts by more than $75 million. Clearly demand for Celebrex was more elastic than expected, as those in need of arthritis medication showed their willingness to wait for a cheaper, generic alternative.
Finally, Clorox shares continued their recent slide, losing 2.5% on Monday. The stock has now lost ground in four of its last five sessions, including last Thursday, when the international consumer goods company reported subpar quarterly results. Investors don't look at Clorox stock and think, "Sign me up for some of that blowout growth!" but interestingly enough a major part of its investment appeal is tied to emerging markets. That's because overseas markets are, in a nutshell, the only place a company like Clorox can grow, given its saturation in the U.S. But with new markets come new risks, and Venezuela's recent decision to devalue its currency hurt Clorox, as proceeds from its operations in the country -- measured in bolivars -- converted more harshly to U.S. dollars, the language of Wall Street.
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