This Week's Biggest Dow Losers


The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) had another rough week. While we did end on a high note, with the index up 45 points on Friday, from Monday through Thursday the Dow lost 273 points. The moves made this week all related to the fiscal cliff and whether investors believed one of two options: We would fall off it, or a deal would be made before the deadline.

With Monday being Veterans Day, volume was light and the Dow closed just a hair lower. Tuesday, volume was back to normal, but the Dow lost 52 points, closing at 12,756. The markets opened on Wednesday and slid just slightly lower until President Obama's press conference. By the time it was over, the market was down 100 points. At the end of the day, the Dow was down 176 points, accounting for the bulk of this week's losses. Again, Thursday was rather quiet, but the Dow moved lower by 29 points. As the closing bell rang on Friday, the Dow sat at 12,588, after opening the week at 12,815.

Before we get to the big losers, I would like to point out that Cisco (NAS: CSCO) was a big winner this week. After the company announced third-quarter earnings that beat estimates, shares soared. The following day, one of the company's rivals in data storage area, NetApp (NAS: NTAP) , also announced positive earnings results that gave technology investors even more hope in the space. As I noted the other day, when something happens once, some will say it's a fluke, but when it happens twice, it's likely to be a trend. We all know many investors never want to miss the next big thing and will jump on anything resembling such. Shares of Cisco ended the week up 6.7%.

But not all the Dow components were so lucky this week. A number of stocks ended the week down more than 3%.

So why are they down?
First, I would like to point out that Boeing (NYS: BA) was one of the best-performing Dow stocks last week, with shares up 4.83%. But that was last week, and this is this week. This week, Boeing's shares ended as one of the worst performers of the Dow with the price falling 3.2%. Last week, I also mentioned that the company was doing a fantastic job selling new planes, but as my Fool colleague Rich Smith noted this week, the company's large backlog is turning into a liability. Boeing needs to increase production quickly, but without jeopardizing the organization if the economy turns sour and orders begin to be canceled in mass. Management will probably be walking a thin line for the next few quarters, if not years.

The Dow financials also took a beating this week, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) lost 4%, JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) shed 3.2%, and shares of American Express (NYS: AXP) dropped 3%. Even though the percentage of mortgages that were more than 90 days behind or in foreclosure is currently declining, if the U.S. moves off the fiscal cliff and dips back into another recession, the banks will probably see more delinquencies. If you happened to forget, we are currently in this mess partially because of high foreclosure and debt delinquency rates. Additionally, American Express and other credit card companies would also see a rise in bad debt.

Shares of big-box retailer Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) dropped by 5.9% this week. The move comes after the company announced lackluster third-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations. On the same day, the company's closest rival, Target (NYS: TGT) , also announced third-quarter earnings, but they were better than what investors were expecting. If that wasn't enough, it was also announced this week that the SEC is investigating Wal-Mart for possible bribery -- not just in Mexico, but also in India, China, and Brazil.

On Monday, Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) announced modest sales results for its Surface tablet. If that wasn't enough, Steve Ballmer also noted that a mere 4 million copies of its new Windows 8 operating system were sold during the first three days the product was on sale. Not only did the software company lose 8% of its value this week, but on Tuesday, Microsoft also announced that the man in charge of the Windows program, the one who some thought would one day take over from Ballmer, was leaving the company. Not a good week for shareholders to say the least.

As a side effect to what was happening with Windows, shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) lost value early in the week. And by the end of the week, the stock had lost 5.8%. But slow Windows sales can't take full blame for the drop, Hewlett-Packard rival Dell (NAS: DELL) added some negative pressure of its own, announcing this week that its own earnings per share had fallen nearly 50%. Dell also posted a decline in top-line revenue from $15 billion to $13 billion, and management stated that the industry will continue to see challenges in the future. The PC market needed a bright spot, and neither Windows nor Dell gave investors what they wanted this week.

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Matt Thalman and The Motley Fool own shares of Microsoft, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend American Express, Dell, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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