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Trump presser pounds pharmaceuticals, defense stocks… and CNN

Written By | Jan 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2017 – As we write this around 1:3- p.m. ET, we have to admit that the smoke is still clearing after this morning’s New York press conference given by President-elect Donald Trump.

The surprise GOP victor hasn’t changed a bit, staying mostly on message, praising his appointees and his initiatives, outlining what he’s doing about his tangled business involvements, attacking Obamacare and the pharmaceutical and defense industries, and pounding already-discredited stories run by BuzzFeed and CNN into the ground. Those dead-enders never quite. But neither does Trump.

Trump promised to rush headlong into “repair and replace” mode for Obamacare and begin constructing his Great Wall almost immediately, worrying about the details as construction progresses. In the meantime, he also strongly implied he’d spend not only part of Inauguration Day but also the major part of his first four or five days in office “signing” stuff, as in using his pen (and maybe his phone) to wipe out as many of outgoing President Obama’s job-destroying and profit destroying executive orders as he can.

Of course, The Donald (who is still very much The Donald) may find that official Washington (read: “Congress”) moves much more slowly than he’d like. But we also get the sense he’s not inclined to wait too long for stuff, either.

For stock investors and traders alike, the main effect of Trump’s first presser was to whack stock sectors and individual stocks he’s been unhappy with all along; namely, the aerospace/defense industry (as in Lockheed-Martin, symbol: LMT), and much of the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.

He hit the former for its massive price increases on various crucial and/or specialty drugs as well as its recent habit of jacking the price of generic drugs into the stratosphere. He stomped on the latter for wasting mass quantities of taxpayer money on weapons systems that dramatically outrun earlier rosy cost estimates. If he can make any headway at all on either or both of these issues, such victories would prove to be game, set and match in Flyover Country for sure.

That said, aerospace/defense and pharma/biotech stocks were bleeding from the eyeballs by the time Trump’s press conference had concluded, although they’ve begun to recover somewhat as Wednesday afternoon progresses. And mega drug manufacturer Merck (MRK) is actually up 2.25 percent as we write this, although it was up more strongly this morning before Trump’s press conference got underway, scoring investor points for getting more drugs through the largely dysfunctional FDA pipeline faster than most of its competitors.

Other pharmas, however, are still limping for the most part. There will have to be deals here, likely influenced by what Trump and the GOP can manage to do with Obamacare, which was, lest we forget, strongly boosted by the pharmas as it went to a vote, mainly because they thought they’d be big winners in the game. Which they were until Trump grabbed the brass ring last November.

Read also: MLK Holiday trading schedule on Wall Street

We’d write more, but Wall Street will need some time to sort out just where this new bull-in-a-China-closet President-elect is headed, so opining on anything right now will probably be a wasted effort. That, plus next week’s highly irregular, holiday and Inauguration Day shortened and complicated trading week, will likely lead this and our companion column into short attention-span mode until we figure out what’s going on.

Only two things are certain at this point:

  1. This presidency ain’t gonna be like the last eight years. Not by a long shot.
  2. No traditional news sources can ever be trusted to tell the truth again until and unless they decide to reform. We’re on our own for the facts for the indefinite future.

*Cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with LegalInsurrection.

Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17