Procter & Gamble Stock Tops the Dow


Up and down the markets go in a tumultuous week for stocks across the globe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has recovered from deep losses today and nudged into the green, helped by Procter & Gamble's big gains. The blue-chip index is up a meager five points as of 2:20 p.m. EDT after suffering nearly triple-digit losses this morning. Still, concerns over the future of quantitative easing continue to spread investor doubt, and most of the Dow's members are in the red. Let's check out what Procter & Gamble's doing to beat back the Dow's losses and why most stocks are falling again today.

P&G soars despite stimulus fears
Today's report of a 3.3% gain in durable-goods orders beat expectations and showed that manufacturers are still succeeding despite tax increases and budget cuts. That wasn't enough to fight off stimulus fears, however, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments to a congressional committee indicated that the central bank could slow stimulus bond-buying later in the year. Easing will have to end eventually, but Wall Street doesn't see it that way yet. Bernanke did caution that slowing easing too soon could jeopardize the economy's recovery, however, so fear over the end of "QE infinity" looks premature.

Procter & Gamble hasn't given in to the pessimism, however: Its stock has gained 4% to lead the Dow higher. The company is bringing back former CEO A. G. Lafley when current chief executive Robert McDonald departs at the end of June. Lafley oversaw P&G's strong growth from 2000 to 2009, and his rehire has ignited investor optimism, which has dwindled over the company's lackluster past few years. McDonald has aimed to cut costs and increase market share during his time, but his efforts to steer P&G out of the depths of the recession haven't been enough for investors. Lafley has promised no major changes to P&G's strategy, but his hire has immediately created a spark.

Procter and Gamble is outnumbered on a Dow dominated by laggards, but no stock is losing so much as Hewlett-Packard . Shares of the tech giant are down 2% today as part of a correction after yesterday's massive double-digit rise. Earnings beat expectations and sparked yesterday's surge, but investors shouldn't place too much faith in HP's turnaround just yet. The company might be topping Wall Street's projections through cost-cutting, but slumping PC sales still dominate HP's financial woes. Until HP can successfully transition away from PCs into more lucrative areas such as mobile and cloud computing, investors should expect more ups and downs from this troubled stock.

Verizon's stock also ranks among the biggest Dow laggards, with shares down 1.1% today. The telecom firm released its Verizon Cloud data backup system for iOS users yesterday after launching the app for Android users last month. The app is a part of Verizon's focus on cloud technologies as it looks to solidify its hold on mobile wireless users. The company's partnership with Nokia's Lumia 928 phone should help to attain that goal if the Windows phone takes off and secures a niche outside of Android and iOS platforms.

The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP is rapidly shifting its strategy under the leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor detour on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

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