Major benchmarks eked out another positive session on Wednesday as investors mulled both encouraging earnings news and disappointing housing data.
Alphabet endures another record fine
Class C shares of Alphabet fell as much as 0.7% early in the session, then briefly turned positive before closing down 0.2% after the European Commission slapped the parent company of Google with a record antitrust fine of 4.34 billion euros ($5.06 billion). According to a statement from the EC, Google has allegedly "imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search."
If you're wondering why shares didn't fall harder on the news, note that it wasn't entirely unexpected. Alphabet stock already edged lower early last week after The Wall Street Journal reported on the impending penalty, which dwarfs a previous $2.7 billion EC fine related to Google allegedly favoring its own comparison-shopping service over those of competitors in search results.
Clorox hits the dirt
Clorox stock dropped 4.1% in the wake of analysts at Goldman Sachs downgrading the consumer products leader from neutral to sell. The firm also reduced its per-share price target from $127 to $112 -- or a roughly 17% discount from yesterday's closing price of roughly $135.
To justify its bearishness, Goldman argued that price increases will likely hurt volumes, which in turn will cause declines in organic sales and profits. Goldman also said that recent challenges in Argentina, as well as its struggling charcoal and trash bag businesses, lead them to believe the stock's valuation is "unsustainably high."
This analyst thinks Uniti is too risky
Finally, shares of Uniti Group plunged 13.4% following a downgrade from hold to sell by Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins. He maintained his $15-per-share price target on the real estate investment trust.
Rollins is concerned about Uniti considering it still generates the bulk of its revenue (around 66% last quarter) from Windstream (NASDAQ:WIN), which he simultaneously downgraded today given its "precarious operating position" and the "substantial risk" it poses to Uniti Group stock.
To be clear, Uniti management is working hard to distance the company from the struggling regional telecom, making multiple strategic asset acquisitions in recent quarters to that end. And the REIT wants non-Windstream sales to comprise at least half of total revenue by the middle of 2019.
However, most investors hate being told to essentially hurry up and wait. And it's hard to blame them for taking a step back today as a prominent Wall Street analyst highlights the risk of doing so.