Merck, Pfizer, Microsoft were Dow’s hottest stocks in 2018

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Jan. 1, 2019 (UPI) — Pharmaceutical giant Merck won Wall Street in 2018.

Shares of the drug maker recorded the best performance on the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the calendar year — climbing just under 34 percent.

Carried by the cancer drug Keytruda, which earned positive trial data this year, New Jersey-based Merck bounced back after a lackluster 2017 to see its shares rise on the bellwether U.S. index. The figures were compiled by FactSet.

Merck marked its gains after stocks tumbled around midyear, after disappointing first-quarter revenue, but the company stayed popular with big institutional investors because of its dividend and safety track record.

“Merck is the leader in commercialized immuno-oncology,” analyst Bill Smead, of Smead Capital Management, said. “They would historically be a glam blue chip with a premium multiple when they were in this situation. There is lots of upside remaining in this name.”

Twelve of the Dow’s 30 stocks are up for this year — Pfizer (18.6 percent); Microsoft (17.4 percent); Nike (17.3 percent); Visa (14.8 percent); UnitedHealth Group (11.7 percent); Cisco Systems (11.7 percent); Boeing (7.3 percent); Verizon (4.4 percent); Coca-Cola (2.9 percent); McDonald’s (2.0 percent) and Intel (1.3 percent).

Goldman Sachs was the worst Dow stock performer this year, losing 36 percent of its share value, followed by IBM (down 26.3 percent), DowDuPont (25.6 percent) and Caterpillar (20.3 percent).

On the S&P 500, only 160 stocks were in positive territory in 2018 — led by chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (up 73 percent), Advance Auto Parts (55 percent) and O’Reilly Automotive (42 percent).

The worst S&P performers included Coty Inc. Class A; L Brands; Mohawk Industries; General Electric and Invesco Limited.


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