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 five consecutive weeks in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended the week higher (the past three weeks) or lower (the first two) by more than 1%, this past week the blue-chip indexes closed higher by merely 0.29%, or 45 points. And the only reason it even closed in the black was that the index rallied late in the day on Friday and managed to finish with a 69-point gain. Similarly, the S&P 500 moved higher on Friday, which also helped the broader index close the week up 1.87 points, or 0.1%. But the Nasdaq wasn't as lucky, as it finished the past five trading sessions down 21 points, or 0.54%.
Despite the small moves the major indexes made this week, they weren't based on macro-events, but rather on earnings reports;always a good thing.
Before we jump into the Dow's big losers of the week, let's take a moment to examine the Dow's top stock. AT&T (NYSE:T) gained 2.98% this past week, prompted by a 2% move on Tuesday that came after the FCC approved the deal AT&T, DISH Network, and a number of other smaller wireless providers had agreed upon to help increase the spectrum band some of the carriers will now have access to. This FCC is looking out for consumers, who should be able to get better service. For AT&T, the world's largest mobile-telecom provider, it's a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," as the deal will increase the competition for its rivals.
Last week's big losers
Oil giant Chevron (NYSE:CVX) lost 2.13% this past week, after the company reported its third-quarter earnings that had declined from the same quarter last year. The company did report slightly higher sales figures, but profit fell on weaker margins from the refining business. Still, management and some investors still believe the company has a bright future. Two projects that should boost revenue and profits are Gulf of Mexico deepwater wells and the plan to move natural gas from Australia to Asia, where demand continues to increase and push prices higher.
Merck (NYSE:MRK) ended the week as the Dow's biggest loser, after falling 2.81% during. As with Chevron, Merck reported disappointing earnings, as revenue dropped 4% compared with the same quarter last year and missed Wall Street's expectations. Although earnings per share hit $0.92, which beat estimates, they also were down against last year -- to the tune of 35%. The company also gave lackluster guidance and reported that one of its best-selling drugs, Januvia, saw sales drop 5% during the quarter. That in itself certainly rattled a number of investors. Merck has already lost a number of patents in recent years, and to see a protected drug begin to stumble is not a good thing. Shareholders should certainly keep an eye on this development in the coming quarters.
After losing 1.92%, Visa (NYSE:V) became the Dow's third worst stock to own last week. Once again, the move comes after the company reported earnings. While on the surface Visa's results were impressive -- revenue up 8%; earnings up 20%, increased dividend; announcement of a bigger share buyback -- the stock fell on Wednesday after the report came out. One likely cause is that investors were looking for slightly more from the company. For one thing, client incentives rose 20% during the quarter, which put a damper on revenue growth and made the earnings increase look less impressive. High expectations can mean price loses from time to time in the short run, but that shouldn't drive investors away from strong long-term companies, such as Visa.
The other Dow losers this week:
- Caterpillar, down 1.39% (click on the link for more)
- DuPont, down 1.3%
- Goldman Sachs, down 0.02%
- JPMorgan Chase, down 0.49%
- Microsoft, down 0.58%
- Travelers, down 0.26%
- United Technologies, down 0.01%
- Verizon, down 0.43%
- Walt Disney, down 0.36%
Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Walt Disney. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the big winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513.
The Motley Fool recommends Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Visa, and Walt Disney and owns shares of JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Visa, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.