Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
After falling four days in a row, and trading higher for nearly the whole day today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) lost another 7.75 points, or 0.05%, today. The move into the red came within the last few minutes of the day, despite the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing higher by 0.38% and 0.68%, respectively, this afternoon.
The bears have a solid grip on the markets at this time, and it's difficult to say what will force them to let go. This morning, investors received what should be taken as great news about the health of the American consumer, as a number of major retailers posted better-than-expected results for the quarter, and increased full-year guidance. But, news that the economy is strengthening only reiterates the idea that the Federal Reserve may soon begin tapering, which may have caused stocks to fall.
A few Dow Losers
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) slid lower by 0.15% today as investors nervously await the company's earnings report due tomorrow. Wall Street is expecting the company to post revenue of $27.29 billion, and earnings per share of $0.86. That is an 8% decline in sales from a year ago, and a 14% decline from the EPS reported for the same quarter last year. The company is in the midst of a turnaround and, as PC sales continue to struggle, the lower revenue and EPS estimates shouldn't shock any investor. But, what many will want to see tomorrow is how the company is doing in new areas of growth such as mobile computing and IT solutions. And these results will likely be the real reason shares decline or rise following the release.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) lost 0.8% of its value this afternoon. The move lower came a day after the FDA gave final approval for Supernus Pharmaceutical's Trokendi XR, an extended release formulation of Johnson & Johnson's Topamax medication. The medication is for epileps,y and should pose a real threat to Johnson & Johnson' version, as Trokendi XR is a once-a-day pill, while Topamax is usually taken twice a day. Regardless, though, of the convenience factor, the fact that another competitor is in the market fighting for share is not good news for the drug and its potential future revenues.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) also slid lower today, losing 0.4%, as the company announced a few changes to its top management team. Three of the company's longtime vice presidents will be retiring, and four new vice presidents have been appointed. Additionally, a few divisions will be folded into one another while the company creates a new unit called the Strategic Services Division, which will include Mergers and Acquisitions. While losing top management is not usually a good thing, investors should still be able to find some good news in the report. You may remember the issue that Caterpillar had with the acquisition of the Chinese ERA Mining Machinery company it purchased. The accounting misconduct by the Chinese company cost Caterpillar shareholders $580 million in a writdown. So, having a new person running the mergers and acquisitions unit may be a good thing for Caterpillar shareholders.
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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513.
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