Today's stock market
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On a quiet day, gold held fairly steady, with the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSEMKT:GLD) up 0.10%. Energy stocks rebounded a little despite falling crude oil prices, and the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLE) added 0.20%.
Wings. Beer. Sports. Activist investors?
Shares of restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings fell 6.1% on Monday in the latest reaction to the results of a proxy fight with hedge fund and shareholder Marcato Capital. Marcato has been exerting pressure on the company to correct what it says is underperformance compared with its peers by replacing management and moving to a more heavily franchised structure. The proxy battle pitted Marcato's board nominees against the longest-serving members of B-Dubs' board, including CEO Sally Smith.
On Friday it was announced that Marcato's challenge was successful, placing three of its four nominees on the board and ousting Smith and one other candidate. Smith immediately announced her retirement. The news sent the stock higher on Friday, but the market seemed to lose enthusiasm for the change today. The stock price has retreated to a level unseen since last October.
Buffalo Wild Wings had years of notable growth but has put up disappointing same-store sales growth in recent quarters. The company has been hit by a confluence of negative factors, including a slumping restaurant industry, declining traffic to malls, and a decrease in sports viewership. Management's arguments that same store-sales growth such as last quarter's 0.5% is reasonable given the headwinds were apparently unpersuasive to its shareholders. Smith said in a press release last Tuesday, "Despite these headwinds, Buffalo Wild Wings continues to perform well, achieving positive same-store sales growth in the First Quarter of 2017 and generating substantial free cash flow. I am proud that we have outperformed our peers on critical operating metrics like same-store sales and restaurant margins for many years."
Will Marcato's plan work any better? Today's market reaction seems to indicate some skepticism about that.
Mallinckrodt under fire -- again
Pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt was criticized in a new report by short-seller Citron, sending shares down 5%. The report claims to present "New PROOF" that Mallinckrodt stock is "on its way to ZERO." This follows an attack last month by short-seller Jim Chanos that prompted a press release from the company in response.
The controversy revolves around the drug H.P. Ackthar Gel, an injectable specialty drug that is approved for a variety of indications including seizures, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and arthritis. At issue is whether the company will be able to continue charging a high price for the drug -- with a list price over $36,000 per vial, according to Mallinckrodt -- as pressure from pharmacy benefit managers increases. Indeed, the company revealed last year it had been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over potential monopoly practices.
The FTC action was resolved, and the company continues to defend the viability of its H.P. Ackthar business. But looming over Mallinckrodt's stock price has been its generic drug business, which declined 10% in constant currency last quarter, causing rumors to swirl about a possible sale. Until the market feels more confident about the long-term prospects of the company, it is likely to remain susceptible to attacks by its detractors.