Dow Sheds 153 Points; J.C. Penney Soars

Walt Disney and Zulily also end as big movers; Russian aggression hits stocks.

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the weekend hit the stock market today, as increasingly hostile rhetoric between Russia and the West sent investors rushing into safer assets. Russian forces invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula over the weekend, purporting to defend the native ethnic Russians in the region, although the natural resources in the region provide another compelling motive entirely. Regardless of the politics behind the move, the Cold War-era rhetoric spooked investors, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) spiraling 153 points, or 0.9%, lower, to end at 16,168. 

On a day when literally every Dow component lost ground, Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) 1.7% decline wasn't particularly aberrant, but it was the third-largest blue chip decliner Monday. It's a shame Disney couldn't parlay yesterday's Oscar win -- Frozen won for best animated feature, as expected -- into some gains today. While Oscars don't typically occupy too much of investors' time (unless you threw down your retirement money on an Oscar pool, in which case you may have a gambling problem), Frozen's $1 billion in box office sales is hard to ignore. And when the songwriters behind Frozen's Oscar-winning best original song chimed in unison, "let's do Frozen 2!" in their acceptance speech last night, Disney shareholders had a reason to care: all signs point to this being the beginning of a wildly profitable franchise.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) investors, on the other hand, seemed to have tuned in to the Oscars. The department store launched a new ad campaign during the Academy Awards last night, airing six different spots promoting its spring 2014 collection. Could it be that the company's long-awaited turnaround is finally materializing? Last week, J.C. Penney stock spiked 25% as the company posted a far slimmer fourth-quarter loss than analysts expected, and same-store sales increased 2% from the year before. But slimmer losses aren't going to cut it going forward, and with J.C. Penney's decision to do away with monthly sales reports as it recovers, investors won't be able to check in on its progress quite as frequently.

Lastly, flash sales women's apparel company Zulily (NASDAQ:ZU) saw shares slump 5% today. The company, which targets moms, went public in November, and has been wildly popular with investors since its debut day, when shares soared 71%. More importantly, however, the company absolutely crushed earnings estimates last week, as quarterly profits more than tripled. Zulily, while both the company and the stock are on a roll, could start to see more competition in the flash-sales business now that it's emphatically proven the concept.

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John Divine has long January 2015 $10 calls on J.C. Penney. You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine.

The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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