The day started off badly for the markets, but the major indexes have managed to recover their losses. After falling almost 80 points at one point this morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has fought back to around breakeven late in trading. Earnings have taken a toll on the Dow today, with one major pharmaceutical player weighing on the index, but stocks on the blue-chip index are still evenly split between risers and losers. Let's catch up on the biggest movers.
Earnings season strikes again
Earnings season has come and gone for most of the Dow's companies, but Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) passed through the gauntlet today. The company's report was less than stellar, and shares have fallen 3.6% as a result. Pfizer grew earnings at a steady clip but still fell a penny short of analyst expectations.
Weak demand for the firm's Prevnar-13 vaccine and the continued fallout of Lipitor's patent expiration took the company's sales down by 9% year over year. While Pfizer has done well since Lipitor fell off patent last year, it's clear the company has work to do to escape the shadow of the patent cliff.
Pfizer's gloom has pulled down shares of fellow big pharma player Merck (NYSE:MRK), whose stock has fallen 1.1% on the day. Merck doesn't report earnings until tomorrow, but like Pfizer, the company faces the specter of falling sales due to patent expirations. It pins its hopes on the blockbuster drugs of tomorrow, such as its massively successful diabetes treatment Januvia. Analysts expect earnings and revenue to both fall, so investors shouldn't get their hopes up too much, even though the stock has performed strongly in 2013.
Outside of pharmaceuticals, tech stocks are continuing their rise from yesterday to power the Dow's modest gains. IBM (NYSE:IBM) has pulled in gains of 1.3% to rank among the top Dow leaders after the company announced it would raise its dividend by 12%. IBM leadership also green-lighted a $5 billion stock buyback today, and investors have been eager to buy stock to take advantage of these opportunities. It's the right time for IBM to launch the buyback: After a poor earnings season, the company's stock has fallen more than 6% this month.
Verizon (NYSE:VZ) shares have also done well today, rising 1%. The company announced the launch of its Verizon Cloud app to Android devices and, soon, to iOS. The Verizon Cloud acts as a cloud-based data-backup service in the same vein as Dropbox, allowing users to restore lost content easily and prevent the loss of data. While some such apps already exist around the mobile world, Verizon's betting its app will appeal to users needing to move content around devices.
Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
More from The Motley Fool
Does a Strong Start Make 2018 a Sure Winner for Stocks?
Find out whether the so-called "January effect" is real.
Meet the 2018 Dogs of the Dow
Learn the basics of this simple dividend-investing strategy.
The Dow's Worst Day in 2017
Even with big gains, there were some scary times for the average.