Procter & Gamble's Fall Can't Stop the Dow's Bounce

Procter & Gamble's Fall Can't Stop the Dow's Bounce

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.

Stocks are bouncing back after yesterday's free fall, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has ridden a wave of momentum since the opening bell. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow has gained more than 60 points. Most blue-chip stocks are in the green today, but a few, led by Procter &Gamble , are continuing to slide. Let's catch up on the stock action you need to know about.

P&G can't keep up
P&G has been hit hard lately. This usually sturdy consumer giant has fallen more than 3% over the past three months. This company is a longtime favorite of dividend investors due to its stability and high yield -- P&G stock yields 3% at a payout ratio of 59%. However, two of P&G's business segments, including one of its largest, have seen sales falter recently as the company struggles to capitalize on the country's growing consumer segment.

P&G's beauty segment is its second-largest division by sales, but the business saw revenue drop off by nearly 2% in the firm's recently ended fiscal year. While most of P&G's other businesses are doing fine, growth is slowing at this consumer juggernaut. P&G still boasts a net margin of 13.4% -- impressive for such a large and diversified firm -- and it's always tougher for a broad, consumer-oriented stock like P&G to grow quickly than it is for more concentrated stocks in high-growth fields.

There's no reason to shy away from this giant, but it's worth keeping an eye on P&G's revenue to see whether the company can energize its top line in coming quarters.

Pfizer's among the leaders helping the Dow rebound today: The pharmaceutical stock is up about 1.4% so far. This big pharma staple has been one of the Dow's most successful stocks for investors this year, even as it has battled patent expirations on key drugs -- former blockbuster drug Lipitor's sales dropped more than 50% year over year during the first half of 2013. That's a problem endemic to the pharmaceutical industry overall these days, but Pfizer is effectively overcoming the patent cliff so far.

Pain management drug Lyrica has become Pfizer's new star, emerging as the company's top seller with $2.2 billion in revenue over this year's first half -- a 10.5% year-over-year gain. Even better for Pfizer investors, Lyrica's patent doesn't expire until 2018, giving the company years more to tap into this drug's selling power. Furthermore, rival Eli Lilly's competing pain drug Cymbalta, a medicine that pulled in almost $5 billion last year, will lose patent protection at this year's end, giving Lyrica a leg up over its toughest competitor.

I've called Pfizer the best health-care stock on the Dow before, and for good reason: It has beaten back the patent cliff with soaring shares, and the future looks good for this big pharma leader.

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