The 3 Worst Dow Stocks This Week

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It was a strong week for stocks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) gaining 1.59%. But not every Dow stock surged along with the market. These were the three worst performers:

Company

Weekly Price Change

Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) (2.4%)
Pfizer (NYS: PFE) (1.3%)
ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) (1.1%)

What went wrong for these three stocks?

For years, anxious investors had placed their bets on "recession-resistant" industries, including consumer staples and health care. As the economy improves, they're beginning to shift their money toward more cyclical sectors like materials and financials. This largely explains why Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , American Express, and Alcoa were among the best performers this week.

But that's not the only reason.

Procter & Gamble came out with a disappointing quarterly earnings announcement. Sales grew 3.7%, while adjusted earnings fell slightly. Although the company sees things getting better over the next quarter or two because of easing commodity costs and higher prices, it also plans to lay off 1,600 non-manufacturing workers. P&G will probably focus some of those cuts on its $10 billion-a-year ad budget.

Although Pfizer beat analyst earnings and revenue estimates when it reported its quarterly earnings this week, generic versions of Lipitor are taking their toll, helping to cut the pharma giant's earnings in half. What's more, Pfizer expects a strong dollar to weigh on earnings for the coming year. Strong currencies can reduce the profitability of net exporters.

ExxonMobil reported that its quarterly earnings rose to $9.4 billion from $9.25 billion a year ago, on revenue growth of 16%. Natural gas prices remain subdued, and the company's relatively small refining and marketing profits fell by more than half.

P&G, Pfizer, and ExxonMobil all lost to the market this week, but it's important for us to remember that it's long-term performance -- not week-to-week price fluctuations -- that ultimately matter. If you're interested in one stock that our chief investment officer picked to crush the market in 2012, check out our brand new report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It highlights a company that is revolutionizing commerce in Latin America. For a limited time, you can get instant access to the name of this company for free

At the time this article was published Ilan Moscovitzdoesn't own shares of any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Procter & Gamble and Pfizer and creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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