Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
For the fourth-straight week it appears that the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is starting off on shaky ground. The culprits today appear to be weak U.S. economic data and a report from Dow Jones that has reignited U.S. debt-ceiling fears.
While not often viewed as a huge report, the July U.S. durable-goods report (a measure of big purchase items like cars and appliances) was so bad -- a drop of 7.3% from the previous month -- that it certainly caught investors' attention. To abate some of this negativity, a 52% drop in civilian aircraft orders was a big component to these weak results, but it still could point to weak third-quarter GDP growth if spending on big-ticket items is beginning to dry up.
The other concern came from Dow Jones, which reported that the U.S. Treasury will reach its current debt limit by mid-October. And we all know what that means, right? You bet: More Congressional bickering! The past few debt-limit crises have come down to the wire, with both parties kicking the can further down the road instead of working out a solution. This is one of those broad-topic issues that has the potential to affect all sectors if nothing is worked out.
By day's end, the S&P 500 had digested all of this negative information and given up all of its gains, ending lower by 6.72 points (-0.40%) to close at 1,656.78.
As should come as no surprise, biotechnology giant Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) led the S&P 500 higher, gaining 7.7% after announcing the $10.4 billion ($125/share) all-cash purchase of Onyx Pharmaceuticals (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN). With Amgen's pipeline aging, this deal gives it a fresh line of rapidly growing cancer-fighting compounds, including multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis, which could fetch $3 billion in annual sales at its peak. Based on my initial estimates that Onyx could be worth as much as $145 a share, I think Amgen scored a nice value on Onyx and would definitely suggest giving Amgen another look here even after its recent rally.
Logistics company CH Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ:CHRW), a new name to the best-performers list, added 2.9% today after announcing plans to increase its buyback authorization. The company now plans to purchase up to an additional 15 million shares, which will be added onto the 8.7 million shares that are still left under its original repurchase authorization. CH Robinson also entered into a $500 million accelerated repurchase agreement that will allow the company to buy approximately 6.1 million shares. Let's remember that while share buybacks don't put money directly into shareholders' pockets, they do make a company appear cheaper on a P/E basis, since there are fewer shares left outstanding.
Finally, biopharmaceutical powerhouse Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) advanced 2.6% despite a lack of company-specific news today. This could be a continuation from late last week, when Oppenheimer initiated Regeneron with an "outperform" rating and a $300 price target, implying close to 20% upside. Oppenheimer believes expanded indications of its lead drug Eylea, as well as its ongoing research into other compounds, should send Regeneron higher. I have to agree that Eylea has become quite the powerhouse, but even I struggle to find value in Regeneron at its current price.