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Why These Dow Stocks Are Falling Behind Today

By Dan Caplinger - Sep 13, 2013 at 1:03PM

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On a good day for the Dow, these losing stocks aren't making the grade.

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.

The Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 0.00%) are having another strong day today, posting gains of 61 points as of 12:30 p.m. EDT and aiming to reverse yesterday's modest losses to post a fourth winning day for the week. Broader markets haven't gained as much as the Dow on a percentage basis, but overall, it seems as though investors are looking forward to favorable resolutions in a couple of major areas of uncertainty: the Fed's future course of monetary policy and the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.

But even with the Dow's solid gains, a few components are on the losing side of the market at midday. Alcoa (AA) has posted the most substantial losses, falling 1.2% as investors start to anticipate its imminent exit from the Dow at the end of next week. In the absence of news to the contrary, the aluminum market continues to be a perform poorly, even within the hard-hit commodities sector, with large stockpiles and industry overcapacity making it likely that Alcoa and its peers will suffer continued low prices for the light, durable metal for years to come.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -1.10%) has dropped 0.8% after a New York Times article yesterday highlighted new concerns about recalls of popular products. J&J has suffered repeated incidents requiring recalls in the past several years, raising more concerns about general quality control and the potential negative impact on the company's brand. As J&J considers selling off its Ortho clinical-diagnostics division, it will only increase the importance of maintaining the reputation of its remaining core businesses.

Finally, Home Depot (HD 1.35%) has fallen modestly, posting a 0.3% decline. After the company weighed in on proposals in the District of Columbia to raise the city's minimum wage for certain big-box stores to $12.50 per hour, the home improvement retailer might owe some of today's losses to the decision of California lawmakers to boost the state's minimum wage from $8 to $10 per hour by 2016. Home Depot has done a good job in recent years of weathering the difficulties of the weak housing market, but any potential rise in labor costs could crimp margins and threaten profit growth -- especially if the trend toward higher minimum wages leads to wage increases even among higher-paid workers.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. 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.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$33,336.67 (0.00%) $0.00
Alcoa Inc. Stock Quote
Alcoa Inc.
AA
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$165.30 (-1.10%) $-1.84
The Home Depot, Inc. Stock Quote
The Home Depot, Inc.
HD
$314.89 (1.35%) $4.20

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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