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Why Shares of Textron Are Down Today

By Lou Whiteman - Mar 11, 2020 at 1:44PM

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Investors are headed for the exits in a "risk-off" environment.

What happened

Shares of Textron (TXT 0.07%) traded down nearly 10% on Wednesday and are now down more than 38% over the past month. Markets are beginning to price in a U.S. recession, and there isn't a lot of interest in holding a company with exposure to a lot of cyclical industries that's already in need of a turnaround.

So what

Textron, a maker of everything from business jets to golf carts, has underperformed the market for years, due to a series of earnings misses blamed on issues spread across the company's sprawling portfolio. Last year, the company had troubles in the distribution side of its Arctic Cat snowmobile business and has also been plagued by troubles at its Cessna aviation unit.

A Bell 525 helicopter parked on the tarmac.

Textron's Bell 525 helicopter is not enough to get the company's shares airborne. Image source: Textron.

Shares rallied last month on rumors the company could acquire the business jet unit of Bombardier, a move that would give the business greater scale, but that option is apparently now off the table. Textron remains a company in need of a spark, and it seems increasingly likely that management must come up with a way to get momentum going while navigating a COVID-19 coronavirus-induced industrial slowdown.

On Wednesday morning, Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak downgraded most of the aerospace sector, Textron included, based on the impact on travel of the coronavirus outbreak.

Now what

Textron has a lot of good assets in its portfolio, including its Bell helicopter unit, which has the potential to grow Textron's exposure to the defense sector. The problem is there is no obvious, quick catalyst to get the company going, and all its most promising businesses are going to require time to deliver. In a "risk-off" environment, investors don't have much interest in waiting around for a turnaround story to play out.

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