Why Shares of Meritor Inc. Plunged Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of industrial supplier Meritor Inc. (NYSE: MTOR  ) fell 12% today after the company reached a settlement in an antitrust case.

So what: Meritor sued Eaton Corporation (NYSE: ETN  ) in 2006 for violating antitrust laws, and a trial was expected to start today in Delaware. But the two companies agreed to settle, with Eaton paying $500 million, of which $209 million is expected to be the net proceeds to Meritor.  

Now what: Shares dropped because the potential payout if Meritor won was $2.4 billion, the damage claim of the lawsuit. Clearly investors had priced in a bigger settlement or trial win in the case. The number might not be what investors expected, but it does reduce risk that Meritor could lose the case; so, in the long term it's not all bad news for shareholders, but the sell-off was sharp and the company will need to hit earnings targets to live up to its current valuation.

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