After spending much of the day in negative territory, stocks ended mixed on Friday amid intensified fears over a potential trade war stemming from President Trump's plans to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Today's stock market
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Oil stocks bucked the negative trend once again, with the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production ETF (NYSEMKT:XOP) up another 2.2% despite warnings from industry groups that Trump's steel tariffs could drastically increase the cost to build oil and gas pipelines.
Foot Locker's rough quarter
Shares of Foot Locker dropped 12.7% today after it announced disappointing fourth-quarter 2017 results, then followed with an underwhelming outlook for 2018.
Foot Locker's quarterly revenue climbed 4.6% year over year to $2.21 billion, though that included a 2.6% benefit from foreign exchange and an extra week as compared to last year's fourth quarter. Quarterly comparable sales declined 3.7%.
That translated to adjusted net income of $155 million, or $1.26 per share -- or $1.14 per share on a comparable 13-week basis -- down from $1.37 in the same year-ago period.
"The dramatic shifts influencing the expectations and behaviors of our customers continued to affect our business in the fourth quarter, just as they have throughout 2017," stated Foot Locker CEO Richard Johnson. "That said, we remained a highly profitable company in 2017, even though our sales and profit results were not what we planned for going into the year."
For 2018, Foot Locker called for comparable-store sales to be flat to growing in the low-single-digit range, while gross margin should "begin recovering" from 31.6% in 2017. However, Foot Locker believes that its current challenging trends will persist into the first quarter, followed by an inflection back to positive comps by the middle of 2018.
Until that turn for the better shows more tangible signs of materializing, I suspect Foot Locker stock will remain under pressure.
REI rebukes Vista Outdoor
Shares of Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO) plunged as much as 14% early Friday, then recovered to close down 7.3%. The drop came after outdoor products retailer REI temporarily halted orders from Vista Outdoor over its refusal to take action on guns in the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
To be clear, REI doesn't sell firearms. But it carries a number of brands owned by Vista Outdoor including Giro, Camelbak, Camp Chef, Blackburn, and Bolle. And after REI learned that Vista -- which also owns Savage Arms and a number of ammunition brands -- "does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action," it placed future orders of Vista Outdoor products on hold "while we assess how Vista proceeds."
"Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead," REI added. "We encourage Vista to do just that."
Vista Outdoor wouldn't be the first to take action on guns. On Wednesday, both Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods announced they would no longer sell firearms to anyone under the age of 21. Dick's also will no longer carry "assault-style rifles" -- also known as modern sporting rifles -- at its stores, and will no longer offer high-capacity magazines. L.L. Bean followed suit on Thursday by raising its required age for gun purchases to 21.
Of course, Vista Outdoor isn't a retailer, so it remains to be seen how REI would like it to respond short of discontinuing or altering the design of its modern sporting rifles and related products. But in any case, whether it goes that route or risks losing REI's business entirely, it seems clear that Vista Outdoor's bottom line will suffer.