What happened

Shares of Windstream Holdings (NASDAQ:WIN) fell 28.9% lower in May 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The month started with a mildly disappointing earnings report, continued with a reverse stock split, and ended with a desperate-looking attempt to mend fences with angry debt-holders.

So what

The regional telecom, which has spun off its network assets as a separate company that is now doing its best to distance itself from the sinking mothership, saw both net losses and top-line revenues falling just short of Wall Street's targets in the first quarter.

A yellow charting arrow plunging downward.

Image source: Getty Images.

A 5-for-1 reverse stock split was proposed in April, approved by shareholders at the annual meeting on May 21, and executed over the following weekend. Stock splits rarely make any real difference to the business prospects or investment quality of any given stock, and reverse splits are even less likely to unlock any positive effects. But Windstream shareholders applauded the fact that the company pulled off a reverse split in May, even though it had been a publicly known plan for weeks. Go figure.

Now what

I suppose it's easy to celebrate a reverse split if that's the best news the company has produced in many months or even years. Windstream arguably spun off its best operations as Uniti Group (NASDAQ:UNIT), making it all the harder to run a successful business as an asset-less provider of telecom services. The two stock charts have diverged wildly since the spinoff in 2015, and Uniti sure looks like the stronger investment -- especially in recent months as the company has made it clear that other clients can replace the fading Windstream business:

WIN Chart

WIN data by YCharts