The stock market gave up ground on Thursday, with major market benchmarks losing as much as half a percent on the day. Investors were uncomfortable with the general lack of action from policymakers at the European Central Bank, who chose not to make major changes to its monetary policy. Without clarity on how the rest of the global economy will recover, the sustainability of the U.S. recovery could be at risk, and that gave market participants pause even as the Dow and S&P remain close to all-time highs. Among the worst performers on the day were Twitter (TWTR), Pier 1 Imports (PIRRQ), and Tractor Supply (TSCO -0.15%).
Twitter looks for direction
Twitter fell 6% as shareholders and analysts mulled over the possible moves that its board of directors could be considering for finding a more prosperous future for the microblogging company. Some reports speculated that Twitter would look at layoffs or other cost-cutting measures, while others once again raised takeover talk without any substantiation beyond the rumor mill. The company is working hard on initiatives like its deal with the National Football League to live-stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season, but investors continue to worry that competitors will leave Twitter behind. Until it can gain some positive momentum with its fundamental business, Twitter will find it challenging to make lasting share-price gains.
Pier 1 sees its leader leave
Pier 1 Imports dropped 15% after the company reported its preliminary fiscal second-quarter results and said CEO Alex Smith would step down from his leadership role as of the end of the year. The retailer said it expects to use the succession planning process that it already has in place, and it plans to make a search for a new CEO soon. For the quarter, Pier 1 said sales were down 6.7% from year-ago levels, with comparable sales down 4.3% despite including e-commerce sales in the mix. The company said it lost $0.05 to $0.06 per share on an adjusted basis. Smith believes that despite tough traffic conditions, the company succeeded by driving "year-over-year improvement in our merchandise margin rate through a more balanced promotional strategy and improved operational execution in our distribution centers." Nevertheless, in a harsh retail environment, Pier 1 could see continued pressure into the future.
Tractor Supply falls off
Finally, Tractor Supply posted a 17% decline. The self-proclaimed rural-lifestyle retailer gave early guidance for its fiscal third-quarter results, expecting revenue to rise between 4.2% and 5% on comparable-store sales performance of between -1% and 0%. The company blamed weakness in the energy and agricultural markets for its overall weakness, and Tractor Supply specifically pointed to reduced demand for wood stoves, heating fuel, and other winter-season items that could be an early indicator of a tough end of the year for the company as well. CEO Greg Sandfort emphasized that the West and Southeast regions of the U.S. are still strong, but the company downgraded its full-year guidance anyway and expects to be cautious for the remainder of the year.