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Stock Market Wrap-Up: Rite Aid Stays Healthy; Delta Makes Deeper Cuts

By Dan Caplinger - Mar 18, 2020 at 4:29PM

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Wednesday was another tough day on Wall Street.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on investors' minds on Wednesday, and the stock market took another big hit. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below the 20,000 mark for the first time since 2017, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite followed suit with losses of around 5% to 6% on the day.

Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.20%)

(6.3%)

(1,338)

S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.30%)

(5.17%)

(131)

Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%)

(4.70%)

(345)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Companies trying to serve customers during the coronavirus outbreak have found themselves doing well, and Rite Aid (RAD -8.40%) has enjoyed a good bounce after a brush with extinction last year. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines (DAL -2.44%) continued to wait impatiently for requested aid from the federal government, and it made some big reductions to its capacity in an effort to wait out the storm.

What Rite Aid's doing to fight the coronavirus

Shares of Rite Aid rose 6% as investors continued to applaud the huge rebound in the drugstore chain's stock. After sinking to less than $6 per share last August on worries that it would no longer be profitable, Rite Aid managed to find a lifeline and has tripled since then.

Today, Rite Aid said it would take steps to serve its customers more effectively during the COVID-19 outbreak. The drugstore will offer home-delivery service upon request, with delivery service fees getting waived for prescriptions that meet eligibility standards. Rite Aid is also working with physicians, pharmacy benefit organizations, and others to make it possible for customers to get 90-day refills. Health officials are urging those who need prescriptions to get extended supplies of drugs to avoid having to venture out for refills, but historically, it's been challenging to get more than 30-day supplies of most medications.

Rite Aid has taken steps to ensure that it has a steady supply of key prescriptions, and its reports suggest that it's not having trouble with any supply chain disruptions. At the same time, popular consumer items like hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies have been hard to find, but the health-product retailer is doing what it can to bulk up inventories of those goods and get them into stores as quickly as possible.

Rite Aid won't be able to solve the coronavirus problem, but it's doing what it can to be part of the solution. Investors like what they're seeing from Rite Aid, and the stock could see more upside if the drugstore chain successfully executes on its broader plans.

Delta aircraft in flight against a partly cloudy blue sky.

Image source: Delta Air Lines.

Delta keeps sinking

Shares of Delta Air Lines were lower by 26% Wednesday, as the airline continued to face huge threats to its long-term viability. The company sees March revenue falling $2 billion from year-ago levels, and April sales could see even deeper declines. In response, Delta is looking at draconian steps to try to stem the financial damage from plunging demand from passengers, but few have confidence that the efforts will be good enough without outside support.

Delta plans to implement capacity reductions of 70% systemwide, with international flights taking an even deeper 80% hit over the next two to three months. Delta will stop flying half or more of the aircraft in its fleet, along with speeding up existing plans to retire some of its older planes. The airline is also doing what it can to cut other costs, with CEO Ed Bastian giving up six months of pay, the board of directors taking no compensation through June 30, and other corporate officers taking a 50% pay cut.

In addition, Delta will scale back on its presence at key airport locations. Even in the hub location of Atlanta, Delta will consolidate facilities, and most of its premium airport clubs will shut down until more passengers start flying again.

Delta wasn't the only airline to lose ground today, but it faces just as dire a threat as its peers. Even with so many positive reviews from business travelers, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be something that Delta hasn't yet been able to overcome.

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Stocks Mentioned

Rite Aid Corporation Stock Quote
Rite Aid Corporation
RAD
$7.96 (-8.40%) $0.73
Delta Air Lines, Inc. Stock Quote
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
DAL
$30.44 (-2.44%) $0.76
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$31,438.26 (-0.20%) $-62.42
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,900.11 (-0.30%) $-11.63
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,607.62 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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