Friday was a strong day for the stock market, with major market benchmarks making up most of their lost ground from Thursday's session and finishing up almost 1%. The day marked the end of the third quarter, and solid gains for stocks meant that investors got through another year without seeing a major September downward surprise.
Greater confidence in the health of German banking giant Deutsche Bank helped allay fears of a possible European financial crisis brewing, and less fear meant that the ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures (NYSEMKT:UVXY) lost 7.5%, as volatility fell. Even though the market was higher, several stocks lost ground, and Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH), Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR), and Ophthotech (NASDAQ:OPHT) were among the biggest decliners on the day.
Cognizant takes a hit
Cognizant Technology Solutions fell 13% in the wake of an internal corruption probe and the replacement of company president Gordon Coburn, who resigned. The technology services provider and consultant said that it was looking at possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act linked to its operations in India, notifying the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC that it had taken action.
At this point, Cognizant wasn't able or willing to make predictions about what the investigation would find, but investors didn't wait to put pressure on the stock. Some analysts downgraded Cognizant, in part because of the uncertainty that the probe introduces going forward.
Pier 1 gives back its gains
Pier 1 Imports dropped 5%, giving back its gains from Thursday following its fiscal second-quarter financial report. The retailer had reported a smaller loss than most investors had expected, but Pier 1 still suffered a nearly 7% drop in revenue on a comparable-store sales decline of 4.3%.
The company's guidance for the full fiscal year included top-line contraction of 4% to 6% and negative comps of -2% to -4%, but the real surprise isn't so much that the stock dropped today, but rather that it gained ground yesterday. Going forward, Pier 1 will have to work harder to stand out from the retail crowd in a tough industry environment in order to get its stock moving in the right direction.
Ophthotech takes collateral damage
Finally, Ophthotech took a 15% hit. The company itself didn't have any news, but industry peer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) announced results of a phase 2 clinical trial that showed that a combination of its already-approved blockbuster eye drug Eylea and a developmental-stage drug performed worse than using Eylea alone. Because the second Regeneron drug is in the same class of treatments as Ophthotech's top prospect, Fovista, investors fear that the study's results could bode ill for Fovista's potential, as well. With Ophthotech in the middle of phase 3 trials of its own, shareholders will have to wait and see whether Fovista can distinguish itself despite Regeneron's bad news.