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Lousy job numbers and fears of global financial discord initially sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling 175 points on Friday, but the index proved remarkably resilient and bounced back to close down just 44 points at the end of the day.
However, the sell-off is starting again today and the two stocks below that closed sharply lower to end the week last week are also continuing their free fall today.
A triumvirate of turmoil
Closely tied to the global financial situation is the unease investors are feeling toward National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG ) as questions rose over its acquisition of Eurobank. The so-called "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund are questioning the absorption because the combination of the two would make its assets almost equal to Greece's GDP and the equivalent of more than a third of all the deposits in Greek banks. Already considered "too big to fail," their union would create substantial pressure if the financial turmoil spreads.
Greece's banks are in the middle of a recapitalization plan under the country's bailout from the troika, and if the proposed synergies of this massive merger are not realized and National Bank of Greece runs into trouble, it would be nearly impossible to find a buyer for it should it fall apart because of its size.
That point became moot today as the two banks called off their merger because they couldn't raise the necessary capital to complete the transaction. While National Bank of Greece fell a modest 8% on Friday, it's down an additional 11% as of this writing. Despite saying that talks could always resume, both banks said they couldn't guarantee they'd be able to sell 10% to private investors. It seems pretty clear the troika's reservations doomed this deal's chances.
F5 drops another fifth
After dramatically missing even its internal quarterly estimates, F5 Networks (NASDAQ: FFIV ) lost nearly 20% of its value Friday, falling to levels not seen since September 2011.
It preannounced earnings and indicated that its North American business was dragging down operations such that adjusted profits would come in somewhere between $1.06 and $1.07 per share on revenue of $350.2 million. That's well below the consensus Wall Street view of $1.23 per share on $376 million in revenue, but also completely missing its own guidance of $1.21 to $1.24 per share on between $370 million and $380 million in revenue. That's a near 15% miss on profits and an 8% skew on revenue.
Nomura Securities thinks it's a company-specific issue, pointing to its new product lineup having several telecom-focused features that might have delayed purchasing decisions, which is reminiscent of what Riverbed Technologies went through last year as it began transitioning to a more diversified product line. This year is viewed as the time when it should gain some traction, though fourth-quarter results were less than impressive.
Yet analysts are still downgrading the stock today, with Citigroup, Piper Jaffray, and Topeka Capital all looking down their nose at F5 with new lower ratings. The tech specialist is also falling lower today, adding another near-1% decline so far to the better-than-10% drop it experienced Friday.
I wouldn't rush right back in since looking at Riverbed's experience, and the fact that its stock has lost nearly half its value over the past year and continues to fall suggests F5 could drop further still, but it now becomes a much more attractive stock to watch.
Speaking of stocks to watch...
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