Housing Data Hurts Home Depot, Earnings Report Hurts Potbelly

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Major stock indices are dropping today after being hit by weak January housing data and as investors wait for the release of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes at 2 p.m. EST . As of 1 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down 30 points, or 0.18%, the S&P 500 is down 0.22%, and the Nasdaq is down 0.45% and on the verge of busting its eight day winning streak.

The Commerce Department said new home starts last month fell 16% from December and even came in 2% lower than where they were during January 2013. This news follows the weaker than expected homebuilder sentiment reading released yesterday and is an indication that the housing industry may be experiencing a setback in its recovery. However, we will not know for sure until we receive a number of months' worth of data, not just numbers covering a single short time period.  

One Dow component taking the housing data particularly bad is Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , which was trading lower by 1.2%. The one-two punch of bad news for the industry is certainly a concern for Home Depot investors and other housing-related stocks, but shareholders shouldn't jump to any conclusions at this time. If a growing amount of data still paints a bad picture, selling may be prudent, but today is too early. Furthermore, some blamed this week's weak results on the very cold and snowy weather most of the U.S. has had this winter. If that is truly the cause, these figures should quikcly jump back to what we saw back in the fall.

Another Dow loser today is Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , as shares are down nearly 1%. The move comes after a Credit Suisse analyst speculated today that Wal-Mart could begin looking at Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO  ) as a possible takeover candidate. The analyst pointed to Wal-Mart's plan to create smaller-store formats as a way to grow within the U.S., assessing that buildout would be easily accomplished by simply buying an established retailer such as Family Dollar. But while Wal-Mart may be moving lower on this speculation today and Family Dollar is trading higher by more than 1.8%, CNBC's David Faber reported this morning that the two companies were not in talks at this time.  

Outside the Dow, one big loser today is the recently IPO'd sandwich shop Potbelly  (NASDAQ: PBPB  ) . Shares are off nearly 10% after the company reported quarterly earnings last night after the closing bell. Revenue came in at $74.76 million, up from $73.51 million, but below the $76 million analysts were looking for. Earnings per share hit $0.06, beating analysts' $0.04 prediction. Management expects fiscal 2014 income to grow at a 25%-35% rate, while same-store sales are projected to increase by the low single-digits.  

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