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.
Sometimes it seems like Wall Street and Capitol Hill are engaged in an all-out war with common sense. Just when Washington starts to see some progress -- a preliminary budget for 2014 and 2015 gained congressional approval late yesterday -- stocks spiraled downward in response to the unexpected productivity. Wall Street fears that the Federal Reserve will start trimming quantitative easing measures in response to an improving economy and a semblance of political harmony. In response to the budget deal, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) dropped 129 points, or 0.8%, to end at 15,843.
Five out of every six stocks in the Dow ended lower, making Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) 1.5% decline a little less miserable in the context of the day. By one measure, however, Disney's stock was looking pretty crummy at the end of November; short sellers are in love with this entertainment behemoth, and just a few weeks ago Disney shares were the third most-shorted in the Dow. Let the Scrooges short, I say: This company has some of the most enviable assets in all of entertainment, and is in tremendous financial condition. Just last week Disney boosted its dividend by 15%, and has plenty of dough left to boost it further.
Other, music-based entertainment companies, specifically Pandora (NYSE:P), fared much worse on Wednesday, as shares of the music streaming company slumped 7.1%. Is it a coincidence that the sell-off came the same day as one of Pandora's stiffest competitors, Spotify, began offering free mobile access? Perhaps, perhaps not, but broad market sell-offs like today's pose bigger threats to speculative, high-flying plays like Pandora than well-established blue chip dividend stocks like Disney. If today's slump turns into a full-fledged market pullback, expect Pandora stock to take a sizable hit, especially with competition around every corner.
Lastly, shares of E-Commerce China Dangdang (NYSE:DANG) fell 6.4% Wednesday, even though Dangdang didn't see any fresh new rivals spring up to threaten its market share. Stock in this small Chinese online retailer is nearly five times as volatile as the wider market, so prospective shareholders should beware the inherent risks in this investment. If, for some reason, you're looking to find a nice Chinese Internet retailer to throw your money behind, there are a few other companies boasting stronger growth prospects than Dangdang, which grew revenue by less than 20% last quarter. Vipshop and LightInTheBox, for example, are both gaining popularity very quickly.
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