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Stock Market News: Dow Stays in the Dow; Cronos Gets Smoked

By Dan Caplinger – Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 9:22AM

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Stocks fell modestly to begin Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday morning brought declines for the stock market as investors tried to parse through conflicting signs regarding the state of the U.S. economy, as well as uncertainties related to the U.K.'s pending departure from the European Union. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.36%) was down 128 points to 25,529. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.22%) fell 21 points to 2,797, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.08%) dropped 81 points to 7,610.

The Dow doesn't like to make frequent changes to the list of 30 stocks that make up its Industrial Average, but sometimes, member companies force its hand. The group that oversees the Dow announced that DowDuPont (DD -0.60%) will get replaced by one of its parts after it breaks up into three separate companies. However, in the high-flying marijuana industry, Canadian pot specialist Cronos Group (CRON -0.77%) dealt with a downgrade following an earnings report that raised concerns about its future.

Two piles of Dow-wrapped materials on a roof.

Image source: Dow.

How now, Dow?

Shares of DowDuPont fell 1% on Wednesday morning, following a late-Tuesday announcement from S&P Dow Indices. The company that oversees the makeup of key stock benchmarks, including the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, said that DowDuPont will get replaced by shares of the to-be-formed Dow Inc., which will trade under the ticker symbol DOW. The move will take effect next Tuesday morning, April 2, following the spinoff of Dow from DowDuPont.

Investors have been waiting for DowDuPont to begin its breakup process for more than a year and half now, eagerly anticipating the chance to target their investment more squarely on the parts of the conglomerate's business they like most. Dow Inc. will get the bulk of the combined company's materials science business assets, while the agricultural side of the company will be redubbed Corteva Agriscience and produce seeds, biotech traits, and crop protection products. The legacy DuPont name will contain the specialty chemicals business, which includes exposure to the electronics, transportation, nutrition, and biosciences industries.

Dow Inc.'s revenue will be the largest of the three parts, but some were skeptical that the surviving company would be big enough to keep its place among the Industrials. Nevertheless, without any obvious alternative to represent the chemicals industry, keeping Dow in the Dow makes a degree of sense -- as well as lending itself to the obvious confluence in their respective names.

Check out the latest earnings call transcripts for DowDuPont and Cronos Group.

Cronos goes from high to low

Meanwhile, shares of Cronos Group fell more than 10% on Wednesday morning, adding to their modest decline Tuesday. The cannabis company got downgraded from hold to sell by analysts at Canaccord, who maintained their price target of 17 Canadian dollars, or roughly $12.67 per share.

Canaccord believes that Cronos hasn't seen the growth from the opening of the Canadian cannabis market for recreational use that many investors had hoped for. Although the analysts are willing to take a long-term view of the growth potential in the industry as a whole, it's nevertheless disheartening for them to see Cronos seemingly fall behind its rivals early on.

Those concerns were evident in Cronos Group's earnings results announced Tuesday morning. Despite gaining the support of U.S. cigarette giant Altria Group via a $1.8 billion investment to take a 45% stake in the marijuana producer, Cronos wasn't able to deliver very impressive sales growth, with revenue climbing just 49% to CA$5.6 million. That's less than a tenth of the sales that the largest player in the space brought in, and it lagged well behind other major producers.

There's still time for Cronos to catch up to its peers, and having Altria's resources could be a big asset. Nevertheless, in a fast-growing industry, Cronos can't waste time, or else it could suffer the fate that Canaccord seems to foresee in its look at the marijuana stock.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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