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Coca-Cola's Stock Fizzles, Dow Wobbles on a Muted Day for Investors

By Dan Carroll – Feb 18, 2014 at 2:30PM

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Johnson & Johnson's stock falls after blood thinner Xarelto is denied expanded uses.

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 markets have hit a snag coming off of yesterday's close for Presidents Day, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.45%) has wobbled around the breakeven point so far today, falling about 12 points as of 2:30 p.m. EST. While most blue-chip stocks have seen little serious movement, Coca-Cola's (KO 0.10%) earnings release today has hit the Dow in a big way, as the beverage stock has nosedived 3.8%. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Coca-Cola's stock goes flat
The soft drink giant announced fourth-quarter earnings of 46 cents per share when adjusted for one-time items, matching analyst expectations. However, the company's revenue slid below Wall Street's projections to come in at $11.04 billion, and it's the North American market that has hit Coca-Cola's performance lately.

Total beverage volume fell 1% in North America, increasing concerns that the U.S. and other advanced markets are shying away from less healthy options such as soda. Indeed, Coke's soft drink volume declined by 3% on the continent to bring down that total figure, despite better performance from bottled water and other noncarbonated drinks in the company's portfolio. Increasing competition across the beverage industry in the U.S. and other developed economies likely has hurt Coca-Cola's performance, but studies on the health and fat-promoting risks of artificial sweeteners, among other soft drink concerns, has stymied the company's progress.

Coca-Cola is still confident it can make up ground in the U.S. market, but for now the company is pursuing new growth avenues to maintain its dominance in the worldwide industry. Developing nations have made up for Coke's weakness in America, with beverage volume in China picking up by 5% alone to buoy rosy growth in the company's Asia-Pacific region. Company leadership also announced a mission to slash yearly costs by $1 billion by 2016, and Coca-Cola hopes its recently negotiated $1.3 billion stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR.DL) helps to reignite growth in the U.S. with the do-it-yourself beverage-making crowd.

Green Mountain's launch of its cold-brewing machine could help, but it will take time for Coca-Cola to see benefits given the planned release of the device in October. For now, look to emerging markets as Coca-Cola's best bet at keeping growth on track.

Keeping an eye on the rest of the Dow, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.13%) stock has fallen about 0.4% after the company hit a regulatory roadblock late on Friday. The FDA rejected Johnson & Johnson's quest to unlock new uses for its blood thinning drug Xarelto. Johnson & Johnson had hoped to gain approval to use Xarelto for the prevention of heart attacks and stroke for patients with acute coronary syndrome, but regulators backed away from clinical trial data deemed too weak to justify approval. For now, J&J will have to rely on already-approved indications for the drug, but investors need not fret: It's believed that the drug could generate more than $2 billion in peak sales down the line, so there's plenty of room for Xarelto to run -- even if it doesn't win every regulatory judgment.

Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. 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
$34,347.03 (0.45%) $152.97
Coca-Cola Stock Quote
Coca-Cola
KO
$62.69 (0.10%) $0.06
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$177.24 (0.13%) $0.23
Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Stock Quote
Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.
GMCR.DL

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

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