Stocks slipped following negative economic data out of both China and Europe on Friday, spurring concerns over a potential slowdown in global growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2% to end the week, while the S&P 500 pulled back 1.9%.
Reuters report slams Johnson & Johnson
Shares of Johnson & Johnson plummeted 10% -- an incredible plunge for the $400 billion conglomerate -- after Reuters published an investigation claiming the company "knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder."
With the backdrop of thousands of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson alleging its iconic talc caused cancer, Reuters wrote that its review of internal J&J documents indicates that the company was not only aware the product was found to be occasionally tainted by carcinogenic asbestos, but also hid that information from both consumers and government regulators.
Johnson & Johnson promptly responded, calling the report "one-sided, false and inflammatory." And several Wall Street analysts have already stepped out to argue the investigation contained little information investors didn't already know.
"JNJ has been facing talc/asbestos litigation for years," Susquehanna analyst Tom Claps told Bloomberg this morning, noting that shares fell harder today than they did in July after a jury slapped the company with a $4.7 billion verdict in a case brought by 22 women alleging its talc-based products cause ovarian cancer. At the time, Johnson & Johnson vowed to appeal the decision.
Costco misses the mark
Shares of Costco fell 8.6%, marking its worst single-day drop in a decade, after the company announced mixed fiscal fourth-quarter results relative to expectations.
Costco's quarterly revenue climbed 10.2% year over year to $35.07 billion -- well above the $34.8 billion most analysts were modeling -- including a 10.3% increase in net sales (to $34.31 billion), and 9.5% growth in membership fees (to $758 million). On the bottom line, that translated into adjusted (non-GAAP) net income of $1.61 per share. Analysts, on average, were modeling slightly higher earnings of $1.62 per share on lower revenue of $34.8 billion.
"On the [grocery] side, we've seen a little bit more margin pressure as there's been a little bit more retail competitive pressure up there -- not only from supermarkets but Sam's as well," explained CFO Richard Galanti during the subsequent conference call. "But that's part of the business."
Apple analyst slices estimates
Finally, Apple stock dropped 3.2% after multiple analysts chimed in with negative notes on the tech juggernaut.
DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte, for one, maintained his buy rating but reduced his per-share price target by $10 to $280 -- which still represents a healthy 64% premium from yesterday's close. To explain his tempered optimism, Forte cited the likelihood of lower-than-expected iPhone unit sales in the near term.
Meanwhile, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo simultaneously reduced his own first-quarter 2019 iPhone shipment prediction by 20%, to a range of 38 million to 42 million units. For full-year 2019, Kuo believes Apple will see a decline in units shipped of 5% to 10% from 2018, to a range of 188 million to 194 million. Though Apple told investors in November that it will no longer provide unit-sales data, that's well below consensus estimates for a 2019 figure closer to 212 million.
Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, and short January 2019 $140 calls on Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.