Shares of car replacement-parts retailers AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) and Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP) closed trading down 12% and 12.7%, respectively, on Friday. Replacement home-parts retailer Home Depot (NYSE:HD) fell as well -- down 5.6%.
What do auto parts have to do with home parts? There's actually a very clear answer: All three of these stocks got hit by downgrades to their target prices at investment bank Nomura Instinet.
But here's the really curious thing: Nomura actually cut its price targets for AutoZone (now $1,090 a share, down from $1,200), for Advance Auto Parts ($115, down from $150), and for Home Depot ($204, down from $251) yesterday. And I don't mean yesterday late in the day after close of trading, either. Turns out, Nomura made its reservations about all three companies public well before trading began on Thursday in each case, before 7 a.m. EDT, in fact.
Despite this, shares of AutoZone and Home Depot stocks both rose in Thursday trading, and even Advance Auto Parts only took a small hit, falling 2.5%.
I suppose there could be any number of explanations why that happened. But given how markets have been behaving lately -- with stocks rising en masse one day only to turn tail and retreat en masse on the next day -- my guess is that AutoZone and Home Depot stocks rose despite Nomura's bearish sentiments on Thursday because basically all stocks were rising. These two simply got swept along by the current of investor ebullience. (And Advance Auto couldn't fall too far in that kind of market, either).
It was only after the tide went out on Friday and sentiment turned against stocks, in general, that folks finally paid attention to Nomura's commentary and decided to sell their retailer shares. Now that people are paying attention, however, that warning bears repeating:
If Nomura's right about the risk, the future for these stocks could look a lot more like Friday's results than Thursday's.