The stock market hit fresh highs today, as the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) finished at an all-time closing record for the third-straight day. Although investors were mostly bullish on Tuesday, the telecom and consumer services sectors ended as notable laggards. So did shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (NASDAQ:REGN), Fastenal Company (NASDAQ:FAST), and Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX), which underperformed significantly today. The S&P, for its part, eked out a 0.8-point advance, closing at 1,897.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals lost 2.7% today, as the biotech stock continued to slide in the wake of its recent first-quarter report. I can understand why Regeneron shareholders might be a little confused with the market's reaction to the results, since the company beat both revenue and earnings expectations. The concern, however, is with U.S. sales of the company's popular macular degeneration product Eylea, which posted lower growth than expected. A secular shift out of the richly valued biotech industry is also working against shares.
Shares of Fastenal, which hawks industrial and construction supplies, shed 2.3% Tuesday. The company, which is primarily a wholesale operation, enjoys gross margins higher than 50%, is financially stable, and dishes out a 2.1% annual dividend. There isn't a compelling catalyst behind today's stumble, but a troubling longer-term trend can indeed be seen in the company's financials. Fastenal sales grew by 17.6% in 2010 and 21.9% in 2011, but revenue growth has been decelerating since then, growing by just 6.1% last year.
Finally, Xilinx tumbled 2.2% on Tuesday, as shares of the chipmaker broke a four-day winning streak. Xilinx also pays a dividend, shelling out 2.5% a year, but it hasn't been quite as consistent as Fastenal in recent years. Sales in the 2014 fiscal year were nearly equivalent to those in 2011, and investors are rightfully concerned with the company's sustainable competitive advantage. Technology companies have to consistently invest in research and development to keep up with the competition, but it helps when those investments evidence themselves in the form of sales growth.
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