Tuesday's stock-market action was dominated by observations about Monday night's first debate of the Presidential campaign season. The general mood among investors was that the result of the debate was roughly in line with what the majority of market participants had expected and wanted to see, and so stocks climbed in the absence of any disruptive surprises.
The Dow gained 133 points, and the Nasdaq Composite was one of the strongest major market benchmarks, with gains of nearly 1%. Yet some markets didn't respond as well to the rhetoric among the Presidential candidates, and other bad news sent some individual stocks lower. Among the worst performers were Chesapeake Energy (OTC:CHKA.Q), Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR), and FactSet Research Systems (NYSE:FDS).
Icahn-related resignations push Chesapeake lower
Chesapeake Energy fell 6% on a tough day for energy stocks, generally. Oil prices fell more than $1 per barrel on Tuesday, sending key futures contracts below the $45-per-barrel mark, and thwarting what had been growing bullish sentiment among energy investors. In addition, Chesapeake had to deal with the resignations of board members John Lipinski and Vincent Intrieri.
Intrieri's departure, in particular, is meaningful because of his role as senior managing director of Icahn Capital LP, in which he essentially acts as a representative for activist investor Carl Icahn. Investors took Intrieri's move as indicating a lack of further interest from Icahn in the energy company, and that bodes ill for those thinking that the activist could help power shares higher.
Avis Budget dives after bond offering
Avis Budget Group dropped 8% after completing a debt offering at reasonably favorable rates. The car-rental giant said that it had sold eight-year senior notes in a private offering, raising 300 million euros and paying an interest rate of 4.125% on the debt. Avis said that it intends to use the raised capital to pay down euro-denominated notes that mature in 2021, helping to extend its overall maturity of its debt.
In addition, the existing 2021 notes carry a 6% interest rate, so even though redeeming them will create a one-time loss, it will also lead to a reduction in Avis Budget's ongoing interest expense. That could boost earnings, but investors seemed to react to nervous comments from Avis executives at an industry conference that suggested sluggish conditions in Europe could weigh on the overall business.
FactSet can't connect
Finally, FactSet Research Systems gave up 7%. The provider of financial information services released its fiscal fourth-quarter results Tuesday morning, and in general, FactSet continued to grow. Sales rose by nearly 10%, but even though adjusted earnings posted a healthy jump, the figure still fell short of what investors had wanted to see.
Similarly disappointing guidance for the first quarter of the new fiscal year also weighed on sentiment. More broadly, investors seem concerned that if the financial markets are topping out, FactSet could end up having to navigate more difficult conditions for the financial industry in the near future.