Trading Nation

This Dow stock could be a way to play catch-up to the rally, two market watchers say

As health care lags, these stocks look like solid bets
As health care lags, these stocks look like solid bets

The Dow is having its best start to the year since 2013.

The blue-chip index rallied 10 percent in the first quarter, helped along by strong gains in Cisco, IBM and Apple.

Now, two market watchers agree that there's one name in the group to play for a catch-up trade: Pfizer.'s Todd Gordon argues that from a technical standpoint the stock chart's pattern clearly shows a bullish uptrend, while Joule Financial's Quint Tatro says the company's earnings growth and stellar balance sheet mean it's poised to accelerate gains.

"Quite a chart," Gordon said of Pfizer on Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "I almost get nostalgic looking back to it. We're approaching the $50 level, give or take, which was the old high. ...Here we are 19 years later and we're within a stone's throw of it."

Shares of Pfizer have gained about 20 percent over the last year, and the stock is currently around 15 percent away from its April 1999 all-time intraday high of $50.04.

Gordon recently added a "half position" of Pfizer shares to his portfolio since he says the chart is indicating a bullish uptrend. Shares are down about 2 percent over the past month, but he argues that it's just a "short-term consolidation before we regain the trend that was in place before, which is up."

Gordon said that if the stock's flag formation — a technical indicator so named since the vertical jump higher followed by a continuation of trading in that range can resemble a flag poll — can hold, he will buy additional shares.

"Pending a break of that little flag pattern, I would add the other half of the position in Pfizer to hopefully attack that $50 level."

Tatro says that Pfizer also looks good from a fundamental perspective.

"Pfizer has been a laggard ... but going forward for '19 we're looking at an EPS jump back over $3, that's about a 70 percent increase from 2018. And they're trading at 11 times forward earnings. So you get a cheap stock, a cash cow, very good balance sheet," he said.

Tatro pointed out that Pfizer has trailed competitors Merck and Eli Lilly — those stocks are up roughly 53 and 68 percent, respectively, in the past year — but that Pfizer is hot on their heels.

"It hasn't had the technical breakout yet that a Merck or Lilly has had, and I think it's a matter of time before traders figure that out and jump aboard," he said.

The health-care sector this year has lagged the rest of the S&P 500 and is the worst performer, up just 6 percent versus the broader market's 13 percent rise for 2019. Nearly half of the components in the XLV, an ETF that tracks the sector, are still more than 10 percent from their recent highs.

Disclosure: Gordon and Tatro own shares of Pfizer. Tatro also owns shares of Merck and Eli Lilly.