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Consumer products maker Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) saw nearly 6% of its share price shaved away last week. That was enough for the company to wrestle away from GE the dubious honor of being the worst-performing Dow Jones industrial average stock of the year so far. P&G’s stock has dropped 19.8% since 2018 began.
The second-worst Dow stock so far this year is General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), which is down 16.7%. That is followed by Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), down 11.9%; Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), down 9.5%; and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), down 9.4%.
The Dow added 102.8 points over the course of the past week to close at 24,462.94, up just 0.4% for the week.
As far as investors are concerned, Procter & Gamble made two mistakes last week. First, the company said it would pay $4.2 billion for Merck KGaA’s consumer health unit. The acquisition adds vitamins and food supplements to P&G’s stable of over-the-counter products. The business generates about $1 billion in sales in more than 40 markets, not including the United States.
Just hours after the acquisition was announced, Procter & Gamble reported quarterly results that were weaker than hoped. P&G is still having trouble making money on its Gillette brand and is trying to gin up sales by cutting prices. Consumers are simply resisting P&G’s efforts to raise prices on the company’s well-known brands. That’s one reason for buying Merck KGaA’s consumer health business.
Procter & Gamble stock closed at $73.80 on Friday, down about 1.5% for the day in a 52-week range of $74.20 to $94.67. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $91.40, and the forward price-earnings ratio is 16.36.
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