Merck Makes a Deal as Dow Jones Drops on GDP Revisions

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  is down after multiple economists revised their Q1 GDP growth estimates downward to negative following some weaker-than-expected economic releases. As of 1:20 p.m. EDT the Dow was down 83 points to 16,445. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was down nine points to 1,876.

Just last week, analysts were expecting U.S. GDP growth of 1.1%. The Commerce Department surprised investors when in its first estimate of U.S. GDP said the economy only grew 0.1% in the first quarter. Now, multiple analysts expect that the U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs cut its Q1 GDP forecast to -0.6% from -0.3%, and JPMorgan Chase cut its forecast to -0.8% from -0.4%. The reason is yesterday's trade deficit report, which showed that imports grew far more than many analysts had expected. Yet investors are still generally optimistic about the economy going forward and believe the bad Q1 was the result of the harsh winter.

The lowered forecast isn't putting a damper on big deals, however. This morning Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) announced it is selling its consumer health business to Bayer for $14.2 billion. Merck's consumer health business includes well-known brands such as Coppertone sunscreen, Claritin, Dr. Scholl's, and Lotrimin. The company announced it will use half the cash to buy back shares and then invest the rest in "those areas within its business that represent the highest potential growth opportunities, such as MK-3475, to augment the company's pipeline with external assets that can create value and to continue to provide an industry-leading return of capital to shareholders."

However, Merck stock is leading the Dow Jones downward today, as CEO Ken Frazier suggested that the company will not sell its animal health unit. In an interview with Forbes, Frazier said:

We're looking at strategic options for our animal health business, but my current point of view is that the business has scale it has strong growth prospects it's got a favorable macroeconomic outlook and a strong pipeline. So I would be looking for opportunities to build onto that business.

Merck has been refocusing itself around cancer drugs, cholesterol drugs, diabetes drugs, and vaccines, and as such it was reviewing its consumer health and animal health businesses for expansions or sales. Investors were hoping for a sale -- possible strategic acquirers include Sanofi or Eli Lilly -- or a spinoff, as Pfizer did last year with its animal health business Zoetis.

Foolish bottom line
There are still pockets of growth in the markets, but they are getting harder to find. While I continue believe the stock market is overvalued, opinions differ. But with the Federal Reserve committed to low interest rates and pumping money into the economy, who knows how high the market can go? One thing is for sure: It's getting harder and harder to find great companies at good prices.

One area of the market to find explosive growth
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now -- for just a fraction of the price of Apple stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

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: 2945605, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/30/2014 6:34:08 PM

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