The Dow's Biggest Losers

In early trading, the market started with a bang, coasting after the second dose of reassuring jobs data. Jobless claims decreased last week, and new data from ADP Payroll Services reflected a boost in private-sector jobs of 170,000 during January.

However, in mid-afternoon the caffeine started to wear off. By the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) curbed its enthusiasm. Not only did the Dow ultimately dip 0.9% on the day, but these components finished off even worse.


Percent Return Today

Year-to-Date Return

Walt Disney (NYS: DIS)



Pfizer (NYS: PFE)



Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ)



What drove shares of Disney, Pfizer, and HP down?

Well, obviously it wasn't a broader trend that knocked down the shares of these relatively unrelated companies. After all, media, pharmaceuticals, and computer manufacturing seem to have very little in common on the surface. Let's take a look at each company to see if we can find an explanation.

Mickey sets sail for India
At Disney, the company recently announced that it took a controlling interest in India's UTV Software Communications. The company also announced a leadership transition, as a new senior vice president was appointed at Disney Channels Worldwide. Should this minor shake-up and foray into a foreign market cause concern for investors? Probably not. Disney owns a portfolio of valuable assets, including its media networks, and expansion into emerging markets makes strategic sense in the long term.

Not the best medicine
Pfizer's shares fell slightly right after recalling 1 million packets of birth control pills because of their inability to effectively prevent pregnancy. The company cited packaging flaws and also lowered its 2012 earnings estimates to between $2.20 and $2.30 a share from a previous outlook of $2.25 to $2.35. Obviously, the recall is a tough pill to swallow for Pfizer, and the outlook doesn't look too promising. On the flip side, the company is rapidly cutting costs and should be able to continue its solid dividend payout of more than 4%.

Burnout at HP
A company that has been often criticized for its lack of penetration in the mobile market, its stodgy business in printers and PCs, and a regular carousel at the CEO level, HP added fuel to the fire today -- literally. The company announced that more than 1 million fax machines were recalled because of overheating and fire dangers today. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that seven total reports illustrated that the machines were causing damage and posed a minor hazard. Although it's a small number of machines, the recall is not the best news for HP's bread-and-butter printing unit.

Foolish takeaway
While it was a bit of a mixed market since the S&P 500 (NYS: ^GSPC) rose 0.11%, Foolish investors should focus on the company-specific news that came out on the day. For HP and Pfizer, perhaps these issues reflect a rocky road ahead in 2012. Only time will tell.

On the other hand, Walt Disney's portfolio of quality programming should continue to serve the company well, so long as the company can tap into new outlets overseas and through mobile platforms. All signs suggest that to the mobile revolution will only gain steam, which is why The Motley Fool put its top analysts at work identifying the companies that will absolutely soar in the mobile industry. Discover our favorite stock in the report, "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution." The report details a hidden component play inside mobile phones that also is a market leader in the exploding Chinese market. Get access to this free report now.

At the time thisarticle was published Isaac Pino owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by @TMFBoomer. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Walt Disney and Pfizer. 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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