Why Sears Holdings, RetailMeNot, and HCP Slumped Today
The stock market's recent volatility continued on Tuesday, and again, stocks recovered from a big early sell-off to finish the day well off their lows. Major market benchmarks manage to close the day with tiny losses despite having seen the Dow fall as much as 135 points early in the trading day. Crude oil prices plunged to just above $28 per barrel, sending energy stocks to another poor performance. But many of the worst performers on the day were outside the oil and gas arena, and among them were Sears Holdings , RetailMeNot , and HCP .
Sears Holdings dropped 9% after the long-struggling retailer provided an update to its fourth-quarter performance. Sears said that the selling season was "challenging," citing warm weather and high levels of competition that ate into its margins and sent sales of apparel plunging. Comparable-store sales for Sears Holdings overall fell 7.1% in the fourth quarter, closing an even more painful 2015 and its full-year comps decline of 9.2%. More importantly, Sears said it would accelerate the closing of about 50 unprofitable stores, and it continues to look for other ways to cut costs. With a combination of asset sales and other debt-reducing measures on tap for 2016, Sears seems to be pursuing an unstated strategy of steadily winding down its businesses while trying to maximize their value.
RetailMeNot plunged 28% in the wake of its fourth-quarter financial report Tuesday morning. The online digital coupon purveyor said that adjusted net earnings per share fell 16% from year-ago levels, and even though that was somewhat less than most investors had feared, RetailMeNot also gave less than stellar guidance for its prospects for 2016. Total revenue of $225 million to $240 million this year would represent a roughly 7% reduction in sales compared to 2015 levels, and adjusted EBITDA in a range of $51 million to $62 million would compare even more unfavorably to the 2015 figure of $71.9 million. Even though CEO Cotter Cunningham said that the moves in the mobile market and attempts to personalize its offerings to users "will return the company to long-term sustainable growth," investors remained skeptical that RetailMeNot's turnaround efforts would ultimately be successful.
Finally, HCP took a 17% hit in its stock price. In what is becoming a common theme this earnings season, the healthcare real-estate investment trust said that it would produce only minimal growth in funds from operations in 2016, disappointing investors who had looked for a roughly 13% increase in the key operating metric for HCP. The drop might not have been as bad had it not been for a similar shortfall from senior living community specialist Brookdale Senior Living , which also gave investors a somewhat downbeat outlook for 2016. Even though the trends favoring healthcare investments over the long run are still intact, HCP and other businesses that seek to tap into the senior health trend are still prone to bumps in the road when things don't work out as well in the short run as investors expect.
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