Wednesday was a down day on Wall Street, with market participants reacting negatively to what many see as an increasing chance of an escalating series of disputes between the U.S. and its trade partners. Giving up early gains, major benchmarks fell as much as 1%, with multinational companies that rely the most on free trade seeing some of the biggest hits. In addition, some bad news from other corners of the market added to the pessimistic mood among investors. J.C. Penney (OTC:JCPN.Q), China Lodging Group (NASDAQ:HTHT), and Envision Healthcare (NYSE:EVHC) were among the worst performers on the day. Here's why they did so poorly.

J.C. Penney keeps falling

J.C. Penney stock dropped another 7%, bringing its losses for the month to nearly 30% as investors continued to respond negatively the department store retailer's weak financial condition. Analysts at Credit Suisse were less than excited about J.C. Penney's prospects, suggesting that the stock price could fall to as low as $2.50 per share due to sluggish revenue and rising costs and discounting activity. As competition gets fiercer, it'll be increasingly difficult for the company to stand out from other retailers. Despite successful efforts to keep creditors happy for now, J.C. Penney needs to make progress improving its fundamental business if it wants to mount a lasting turnaround.

Person picking up packages at J.C. Penney order pickup desk from a worker behind a desk.

Image source: J.C. Penney.

China Lodging can't grow fast enough

Shares of China Lodging Group fell 10% despite the company posting solid financial results in its fourth-quarter report. China Lodging said that revenue was higher by nearly a third, resulting in a more-than-80% jump in net income from year-ago levels. Yet the stock has risen sharply over the past year on hopes that improving conditions not just in China but throughout the Asia-Pacific region could contribute to even faster growth, and so the company's results simply weren't good enough to support the advance. Even with today's decline, China Lodging has doubled from where it traded a year ago, reflecting the optimism that many investors still maintain.

Envision loses a bidder

Finally, Envision Healthcare stock lost 8%. News reports surfaced that the medical services company can no longer expect to receive a buyout bid from health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, as it has apparently dropped out of the process. Activist investors had put pressure on Envision to seek buyout bids, and most of those following the stock believe that some high-profile names in the private equity world had been interested in possibly making an offer. With UnitedHealth out of the running, the odds of a bidding war are greatly decreased, and the process might even fail to generate a viable bid. With big questions about the company's continuing viability, any problems for Envision Healthcare with the sale process could be even more devastating than they'd otherwise be.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.