What happened

Shares of Textron (NYSE:TXT) plunged 18.1% in December, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, despite a lack of negative company-specific news.

Rather, with Textron already reeling from the company's disappointing third-quarter report in October, the industrial conglomerate's stock didn't fare particularly well as the broader markets pulled back on trade tensions and concerns over slowing global growth.

Yellow and white helicopter made by Bell.

IMAGE SOURCE: TEXTRON/BELL HELICOPTER.

So what

During last quarter's earnings conference call, Textron management noted that they weren't seeing any large negative impact from recently imposed tariffs, apart from "some pressure" on raw-material pricing. But a global slowdown certainly could hurt Textron, given its reliance on big-ticket items and often large contracts, particularly under its aviation, Bell, and specialized vehicle businesses. It also didn't help that Textron was already struggling with its go-to-market strategy and cost management in the latter segment since acquiring Arctic Cat in 2017, with management promising last quarter that they were "focused on driving improvements" to those ends.

On December 4, 2018, Textron's board of directors approved plans to restructure the specialized vehicle business to enable it to better handle its larger product portfolio, integrated manufacturing, and retail distribution. To be fair, this restructuring is expected to result in pre-tax charges of $60 million to $85 million, all of which will be recognized in the fourth quarter. But keeping in mind the stock was little changed immediately following the news, the move should leave Textron better poised to capitalize on what it described as "favorable trends in the power sports market" going forward.

Now what

We'll receive our next update on Textron's performance when the company releases fourth-quarter earnings on January 24, 2019. In the meantime, in the absence of any material news, I suspect the stock will remain at the mercy of new trade developments and the broader market's moves.

Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Textron. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.