The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up modestly on Wednesday morning, registering a gain of 0.1% at 10:25 a.m. EST. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalated after Iran launched missiles at airbases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, although it wasn't enough to derail the stock market. There were no casualties in the attack.
Weighing on the Dow was Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), which tumbled following a disappointing first-quarter report. Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) were also down after various analysts cut their price targets on the beleaguered airplane manufacturer.
Walgreens' profits tumble
Shares of drugstore chain Walgreens were down 7.3% Wednesday morning following a fiscal first-quarter report that missed expectations. Walgreens grew revenue by 1.6% to $34.3 billion, but that was $110 million short of the average analyst estimate.
The U.S. retail pharmacy segment grew sales by 1.6% to $26.1 billion, but it was dragged down by the retail side of the business. Retail sales were down 2.2%, with comparable sales slumping 0.5%. The de-emphasis of tobacco was the main driver of the sales decline.
The profit picture looked even worse. Adjusted earnings per share dropped 6% to $1.37, missing the mark by $0.04. On a reported basis, EPS was down 19.8%, while net income crashed 24.8%. The bottom line was hurt by bonus changes, as well as costs related to the acquisition of Rite Aid stores and the company's cost-cutting program.
One silver lining: The company maintained its earnings outlook for fiscal 2020. "We are maintaining our outlook for the year despite a soft first quarter. We are confident our strategic plans are the right ones to drive long-term sustainable growth going forward," said Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina.
Walgreens expects adjusted earnings per share to be roughly flat in fiscal 2020 on a constant currency basis. By fiscal 2022, the company expects to have cut annual costs by more than $1.8 billion.
Walgreens' earnings release didn't mention its efforts to explore going private via private equity firms. The latest news on that front came in early December, when The Wall Street Journal reported that talks had stalled.
Including Wednesday's decline, Walgreens stock is down about 21% over the past year.
Analysts start to lose faith in Boeing
Boeing's 737 Max crisis is showing no signs of ending anytime soon. While the stock was boosted on Tuesday thanks to a rumor that Warren Buffett was building a stake in the company, shares were down 1.8% Wednesday morning as multiple analysts cut their price targets.
Bank of America kept its neutral rating on Boeing, but it reduced its price target on the stock by $10 to $360. BofA sees the 737 Max hurting major customer Southwest Airlines through the middle of this year.
UBS and Cowen pulled the same move, bringing down their price targets on the stock to $360. UBS maintained its neutral rating, while Cowen cut its rating from "outperform" to "market perform." Both are concerned about the lengthening timeline for the return of the 737 Max.
Analysts at Jefferies were more optimistic, maintaining their "buy" rating and $420 price target. Jefferies thinks that Boeing could produce more than $30 per share of free cash flow by 2022.
On Tuesday, Boeing said it will recommend simulator training for 737 Max pilots before the planes return to service, a move that could delay the process even more. Also on Tuesday, an older Boeing 737-800 crashed in Iran, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. The reason for the crash is still unclear.
Boeing will eventually get the 737 Max flying again. How much damage this crisis will do to the stock before that happens is an open question.