Merck surges more than 30% in 2018, taking the crown as biggest Dow winner

Bess Adler | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ken Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., speaks during an Economic Club of New York event in New York, U.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018.

2018 may have been the worst year for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in a decade, but Merck managed to easily buck that trend.

Shares Pfizer, one of Merck’s biggest competitors, were the second-best Dow performers this year with a gain of more than 18 percent, also benefiting from the rotation into more defensive names. Merck has a dividend yield of 2.9 percent, while Pfizer has a 3.3 percent payout.

Microsoft, Nike and Visa rounded out the Dow’s top five stocks as they all jumped at least 14 percent.

These strong yearly performances were outweighed by steep losses in Goldman Sachs, IBM, DowDuPont, Caterpillar and 3M, however.

Goldman Sachs was the worst-performing Dow stock of 2018, dropping about 36 percent. The stock has been under pressure this year as a scandal related to the defunct Malayan investment fund 1MDB lingers. Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Goldman back in November, noting uncertainty over the scandal could fester.

IBM, meanwhile, struggled this year as it continued its transition away from enterprise technology as its main source of revenue. Caterpillar and 3M were pressured by an ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. as a large portion of their profits comes from overseas.

—CNBC’s
Michael Bloom
contributed to this report.

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