Record highs have come once again for the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) , which finished above the 1,900 level on Friday and returned to unparalleled heights. In general, the market seemed to react positively to all the favorable economic news that has driven the prospects for the U.S. forward recently. But it would be a huge mistake to assume that every stock has performed well, as Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS ) , Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU ) , and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN ) were among the worst performers in the S&P 500 last week and held back the index from posting even more impressive gains.
Staples plunged 12% after the office-supply retailer's quarterly results were even worse than investors had already expected. A 3% drop in overall revenue wasn't all that surprising, given the drop in overall store traffic that led to a 4% decline in same-store sales. But what many shareholders weren't prepared for was the extent to which Staples had to cut prices and offer promotions just to retain that reduced level of traffic in its stores. Moreover, poor guidance for the current quarter eliminated one hope that Staples shareholders had had, making it impossible to blame winter weather for the ongoing struggles of the retailer going forward. Restructuring efforts will be necessary in order for Staples to rebound, but it's far from certain that even those moves will be enough to make a difference given the deteriorating conditions in the industry.
Peabody Energy fell 8% amid general uncertainty about the future of the coal-mining industry. Peabody has a number of advantages compared to its peers, as its international coal resources give it geographical proximity to the key Asian market. But after some optimism in recent months that the coal market could finally start to turn around on an increase in demand from China and other heavy coal users, this week brought concerns that the recent bullishness came more from inventory restocking among those users rather than lasting higher demand. Higher natural gas prices could support thermal coal producers like Peabody in the future, but it'll take more than just a bottoming process to send coal stocks markedly higher.
Urban Outfitters dropped 10% in a terrible week for teen retail. Urban Outfitters started the week on a negative note, with its namesake stores posting an ugly 12% decline in same-store sales, offsetting substantial gains from its Free People and Anthropologie stores. Later in the week, some of Urban Outfitters' rivals fared even worse, suggesting a true changing of the guard in the teen-retail space and putting the entire industry on the defensive. Given the pockets of strength within Urban Outfitters' stable of other brands, the retailer has some competitive advantages over peers with more concentrated exposure to single brand concepts. Still, Urban Outfitters has to work to maintain its attractiveness to fickle teen shoppers in order to recover.
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