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DuPont Soars to Lead the Dow's Comeback

By Dan Carroll - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:31PM

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After yesterday's market bloodbath, DuPont and Merck are among a handful of high-performing stocks on the Dow Jones today.

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 yesterday's market implosion, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.03%)has turned things around to pick up about 70 points as of 2:30 p.m., with most blue-chip stocks rising into the green. DuPont's (DD) 3% leap has led the Dow, while Big Pharma company Merck (MRK 1.58%) has risen 2.7% after signing a big deal of it own. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

DuPont hones in on farming dominance
DuPont is a huge player in the agricultural industry, and today the company's seed business announced a new deal with information firm DTN/The Progressive Farmer. The agreement will allow DuPont to send out weather and market information to farmers, expanding the company's reach in the growing precision agriculture industry that's centered around using data and analytics to maximize farm profits on such trends as soil types, moisture, and weather patterns.

DuPont's deal comes after rival Monsanto (MON) signed a similar agreement in November, buying The Climate Corp., a weather data company, for $930 million. Monsanto projects that data mapping in agriculture could unlock a new $20 billion market.

That's a gold mine for DuPont, which has struck it rich in the agricultural sector as of late. The company announced a strikingly successful most recent quarter, doubling its net profit and growing sales nearly 6% behind its surging agricultural unit. The business has become DuPont's largest by sales, and in the fourth quarter revenue from agricultural products jumped 18%. Latin America has exploded as a major growth market, with insecticides selling very well in the most recent quarter. If DuPont can become a dominant force in the precision agriculture industry, this company will be poised to see a lot more green for a long time in its largest business.

Merck's also moving up in a big way today after the company announced an agreement with Belgian biotech Ablynx to develop new cancer treatments. The deal, in which Merck will pay $27 million up front to the company but could deliver up to $2.3 billion if more conditions are met, will see Ablynx develope its nanobodies to pursue more effective cancer immunotherapies. Merck has pushed into the cancer-fighting therapy market at full steam, recently filing for approval for its potential blockbuster drug MK-3475. Considering that analysts believe the cancer immunotherapy market could be worth up to $35 billion eventually, Merck may be on the way to restocking its pipeline with some serious potential firepower.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$31,261.90 (0.03%) $8.77
Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Quote
Merck & Co., Inc.
MRK
$93.55 (1.58%) $1.46
Monsanto Company Stock Quote
Monsanto Company
MON
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Stock Quote
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
DD

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

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