Fears of military escalation in Ukraine, a non-issue for the last several weeks, are back on Wall Street's radar. Short-term investors, concerned that a conflict could emerge over the weekend, shed risk in their portfolios by selling stocks on Friday. But soft quarterly earnings from major U.S. companies were already weighing on the stock market, as all three major indices lost ground today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) lost 140 points, or 0.9%, to end at 16,361 on Friday.
Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) ended as one of the Dow's worst performers, falling 1.7%. Disney won't be reporting earnings until May 6, but the consumer-services sector finished as the weakest sector in the market today, dooming Disney's stock to an uphill battle. Disney won't have an uphill battle in the box office next year when it releases a little movie called Star Wars: Episode VII. While the latest installment of the cosmic saga will likely cost more than any of its predecessors to produce -- Disney may invest up to $200 million in the project -- such an enormous budget is still a low-risk investment considering the broad, avid fanbase Star Wars has built over the years.
Zulily (NASDAQ: ZU ) doesn't have a broad fanbase yet, but it's getting there, and its current customers certainly are avid. The online flash-sales site targets mothers, and had 157,000 active customers in 2010. The revenue per active customer that year was $117. Three years later, Zulily boasts nearly 3.2 million active customers, each of which brings in an average of $219 in annual revenue. Zulily shares plunged 8.9% today despite no major company-specific news. Wall Street has a troubling tendency to equate new, unfamiliar companies with similar, larger rivals, which probably worked to Zulily's detriment today as shares of Amazon.com cratered nearly 10%.
Finally, shares of World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE ) also took a big hit on Friday, slumping 8.6% by day's end. Shares are up more than 70% in the last six months alone, and with many momentum names selling off sharply today, the stock's fall should be taken with a grain of salt. In the grander scheme of things, World Wrestling Entertainment is on the rebound, as the recent successful launch of Wrestlemania XXX indicates. The company relies on pay-per-view revenue and a new monthly streaming subscription service for the majority of its sales, which sounds like a shaky business model. To its credit, though, the WWE has increased sales for four consecutive years, it has little outstanding debt, and the stock even pays a 2.2% annual dividend.
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