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Why Kraft Heinz, Universal Display, and Synchrony Financial Slumped Today

By Dan Caplinger – Nov 2, 2018 at 3:35PM

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Find out how earnings hurt these high-profile stocks.

The stock market saw big ups and downs on Friday, but the bears ended up carrying the day as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major indexes finished lower. Speculation that a long-awaited end to the trade dispute between China and the U.S. was in sight proved to be premature, and despite mixed earnings reports, several key players in the global economy identified headwinds that could hurt growth. Among the big decliners were several high-profile companies, and Kraft Heinz (KHC -0.99%), Universal Display (OLED -1.37%), and Synchrony Financial (SYF -1.55%) were among the worst performers on the day. Here's why they did so poorly.

Kraft Heinz leaves investors feeling burned

Shares of Kraft Heinz sank 10% after the food giant announced its third-quarter financial results. Top-line performance for the company was relatively good, with organic sales climbing 2.6% from year-earlier levels. But rising costs squeezed its earnings, including costlier raw ingredients and higher overhead expenses. Company executives believe that the hit to Kraft's bottom line will be temporary, but the longer-term issue that the food titan faces is whether it can pivot toward healthier offerings that match up better with changing consumer preferences. If not, then today's decline could be just the beginning of a longer-term trend at Kraft Heinz.

Hockey rink with KraftHeinz branding on floor and walls, with zamboni on the ice.

Image source: Kraft Heinz.

Universal Display gets walloped

Universal Display stock plunged 20.5% in the wake of disappointing performance in the company's third-quarter report. The maker of organic LED displays said that revenue was higher by 26% from year-earlier levels, and net income surged by nearly 70% year over year. Yet both numbers were below what most of those following the stock had expected, and Universal Display also slashed its revenue guidance for the full year. Downbeat news from elsewhere in the smartphone industry probably also took its toll on the OLED maker's shares, but regardless of overall sector trends, Universal Display still needs to demonstrate it can take advantage of long-term growth to boost its own business.

Synchrony falls out of sync

Finally, shares of Synchrony Financial finished lower by nearly 10%. The credit card issuer got sued by retail giant Walmart (WMT -2.50%), which alleged a breach of the contract between the two companies. Walmart argued that Synchrony's standards for underwriting credit terms with customers hurt the retailer and is seeking $800 million in damages, but Synchrony responded by alleging that Walmart is simply trying to pay less than what the consumer finance company believes is fair market value for the portfolio of customer loans. Synchrony wants to enforce the contract, but given Walmart's size and leverage, investors don't feel completely confident that the financial company will end up on top in litigation.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Universal Display. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Universal Display Corporation Stock Quote
Universal Display Corporation
$97.59 (-1.37%) $-1.36
Synchrony Financial Stock Quote
Synchrony Financial
$29.27 (-1.55%) $0.46
The Kraft Heinz Company Stock Quote
The Kraft Heinz Company
$33.92 (-0.99%) $0.34
Walmart Stock Quote
$130.06 (-2.50%) $-3.33

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