The mood on Wall Street got negative in a hurry last week, as investors started to fear what many see as an unavoidable correction. Yet the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) limited its losses to around half a percent, even though two sharp downward moves on Wednesday and Thursday contributed to the gloomy atmosphere for investors. Among the stocks helping to pull the Dow down this week were Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) .
Procter & Gamble fell 2.5% as the consumer-products company got a vote of no confidence from activist investor Bill Ackman. In its quarterly report of holdings, Ackman's Pershing Square hedge fund revealed that it had completely exited its position in Procter & Gamble as of March 31. The investment has been lucrative for Ackman, as Procter & Gamble recovered from a slump and made stronger efforts to seek out growth opportunities in emerging markets. Yet for those who look to Procter & Gamble as a defensive play, the fact that the stock dropped more than the overall market is somewhat troubling, especially given its above-market earnings multiple that arguably makes it more vulnerable to future pullbacks rather than less.
Disney dropped 1.9%, but most investors likely saw the move as a reasonable pullback after a nice move the previous week following Disney's first-quarter earnings report. Disney has a reputation as a dependable growth stock, with several opportunities for substantial revenue gains from its blockbuster movie franchises and its rock-solid television franchises as well as affiliated businesses like theme parks and merchandising. So far, Disney has been able to coordinate its businesses masterfully, with different divisions finding ways to capitalize on the successes of the others. As long as that trend continues, pullbacks are likely to remain buying opportunities, as Disney stock has climbed to levels that are high enough to draw profit-taking among those with shorter-term time horizons.
Intel declined 1.8%. Shareholders remain concerned about the slow progress that Intel has made in trying to increase its relevance in the mobile-device world, as its PC-based business slowly fades in importance. Although Intel has historically had the competitive advantage of superior manufacturing technology, the threat of increased competition on that front could result in the loss of that key advantage. The real key for Intel going forward will be whether it can lure top talent through its doors to help it catch up to some of its rivals in the mobile realm. If the inventors of tomorrow choose other companies to work for, then Intel's declines this week will be the tip of the iceberg.
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