Last week was a sickening week for pharmaceuticals. First, Merck
1) Buy the diseased company
Sometimes, what looks like the plague will turn out to be little more than a head cold. The important question is the extent to which the unfortunate event will affect the company's long-term competitive position. If the answer is "not much" then the market could be providing the opportunity to buy a strong company at a discount. Think Intel
Merck's competitive position will certainly be damaged losing such a huge revenue generator and the potential lawsuits. But Chiron's difficulties may only last a year and not hurt its long-term competitive position significantly.
2) Buy the competitors
When one company falters, a competitor will often pick up the slack. However, investors must be certain that the troubling event is company-specific, rather than affecting the entire industry. Investors who tried to profit from Lucent's
3) Buy the indirect beneficiaries
Sometimes, one company's difficulties may help another company or just provide hints about the future performance of another company. For instance, while Florida insurers have suffered recently, home improvement stores like Home Depot
4) Do Nothing
You don't need to join the crowd just because there's much ado. If the news is temporary, then it will neither demolish a strong company, nor transform a sickly company into a powerhouse. So, if your portfolio is filled with over-achievers, some short-lived bad news is no reason to deviate from your long-term strategy. Doing nothing can be the best decision you can make.
On the other hand, if your portfolio could use a few more over-achievers, you might want to check out our new Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter. You can take a free, no-obligation trial today.
Related Fool commentary:
- Got Merck?
- Merck Chokes Back Vioxx
- No Cheer for Chiron
- Chiron Sneezes, Investors Catch Cold
- Buy and Hold Beats Rapid Trading
Fool contributor Richard Gibbons is only slightly contagious. He owns shares of Service Corp., but none of the other companies discussed in this article.