Rite Aid Slumps Again on Margin Worries, Dow Rallies to Record Close

Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting does little to affect the stock; Melco Crown Entertainment shares slip as Macau deceleration in focus.

Jun 6, 2014 at 6:29PM

Spurred on by another month of strong jobs growth in May, stocks were up across the board on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) notched a record closing high after the Labor Department said that nonfarm payrolls increased by 217,000 last month, and total employment is now higher than its previous peak in January 2008. Twenty-one of the Dow's 30 components ended higher, as the Dow tacked on 88 points, or 0.5%, to end at 16,924.

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) was one of the few stocks in the Dow that didn't benefit from Wall Street's bullishness Friday, as shares failed to break even, losing 0.1%. At the annual shareholders meeting today, investors got a look at the company's new 47-year-old CEO Doug McMillon, who took over from Mike Duke in February. While McMillon's 30-year rise from hourly associate to top dog is indeed an inspiring career arc, many of Wal-Mart's current employees don't feel like their employer cares much about their financial livelihood. Wal-Mart workers across the nation staged strikes this week for better wages in conjunction with the shareholder meeting.

Meanwhile, shares of drugstore Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) continued their two-day sell-off, losing 1.9% on Friday. The stock was clobbered to the tune of 7.4% yesterday, after the company said higher drug costs would crimp its profit margins in fiscal 2015. Rite Aid's business and stock have been on a steady tear for the last few years, as improved margins have fueled tremendous bottom-line growth. It's troubling to see margins slip like this, but even after Rite Aid's pullback, the stock is priced for tons of growth, so it's hard to say it's a screaming buy right now.


One of Melco Crown's Macau hotels, Altira. Source: company website

Shares of Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ:MPEL) took an even bigger hit today, shedding 2.8% in trading. The casino industry in Macau -- the only place in China where gambling is legal -- has captured Wall Street's attention in recent years, as the legal monopoly that companies like Melco Crown enjoy in the region has generated jaw-dropping profits. Melco Crown itself swung from losing $2.4 billion in 2009 to generating nearly $5 billion in profits last year. But a recent slowdown in Macau's gaming growth has analysts concerned, and Wells Fargo and FBR Capital each issued notes to investors today highlighting the recent deceleration in the area.

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John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

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