Well, that was close. For a while there it looked that the market might be worried the looming fiscal cliff would wreck the economy, but in one of its best days in months, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rallied 207 points, or 1.6%, as both sides in the country's fiscal (mis)management signal that the worst may be over.
Financial stocks rallied, with Dow component Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) up 4% -- there wasn't a single Dow laggard today -- and tech stocks surged, too, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) jumping 7% and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) rising 3.5%. Even Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) managed to tick higher.
Yet as good as things were on the day, not every stock did well, and the three following companies managed to actually fall, with Diamond Foods (UNKNOWN:DMND.DL) plummeting by double-digit percentages.
Now, don't go running over the cliff with them like a bunch of lemmings: It could just be a temporary situation. Let's first see whether they had good reason to fall, as panic-fueled routs can sometimes lead to excellent buying opportunities.
The cookie's crumbling
The sell-off in Diamond Foods shares yesterday was its third straight day of decline after restating earnings back to 2010 because of improper payments it made to walnut growers. While it also led to the firing of its CEO and CFO, it ended up wiping out more than $56 million in profits and caused it to lose out on the acquisition of the Pringles business from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG).
Diamond's stock tumbled 20% on Thursday following the restatement and then dropped another 1.5% on Friday before falling 12% yesterday. As sharp as the cuts were, however, more fatal may have been watching Kellogg (NYSE:K) grab the potato chip prize and tripling the size of its snack division this past summer. Diamond's plans of becoming the second-biggest snack-foods company behind PepsiCo's (NASDAQ:PEP) Frito Lay division were left broken.
I had thought Diamond's restatement would be cathartic for it, a spur to advance with the imbroglio behind it. Perhaps it will still serve as a catalyst of sorts, but by making it into a takeover target itself. Tell me in the comments section below whether you think Diamond Foods will turn out to be a gem of a stock once again.
Safe Bulkers is another stock that's had multiday drops in value, and its shares are off 28% since last Wednesday after cutting its dividend in the wake of a charter market that's just not holding up. The dividend has been slashed from $0.15 per share down to just $0.05, despite having beaten top- and bottom-line estimates.
Prices in the industry have plunged even more than Safe Bulkers' stock, and it noted that Panamax ships are losing value, which is creating a huge hole it has to plug. It has 24 such ships in its fleet and estimates they lost $150 million in value. It's not going to get any better, either, as it's called 2013 another possible "lost year" and figures the world financial crisis isn't instilling any confidence either.
The shipping industry has run aground, and there are going to be more companies sinking down to Davy Jones' Locker. It's just not a place you'd want to put your money in at this time. Or is it? With all these discounted shippers, tell me in the comments box below if you'd sail off with one of them.
Grinding to a halt
Just the other day I suggested that ZAGG, the maker of protective gear for your electronic gadgets, shouldn't be relied upon to protect your investment in its stock. It's still suffering the lingering fallout of executive shenanigans related to its former CEO who pledged company stock and got caught in a margin call. While such events are regrettable, ZAGG has compounded the error by being less than forthright in its disclosures.
There's no catalyst here for a turnaround yet, and its rival OtterBox recently wrapped up Wrapsol, another maker of protective films and cases for smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. While the mobile-phone market continues to show strength, protective gear for it would seem to have a similarly strong outlook. But with products that are commoditized, it won't do for one of the leaders to be mired in lawsuits and investigations while the competition consolidates its muscle. I continue to think we'll see ZAGG trend down from here until these matters are fully resolved, but that leaves it further behind OtterBox and others.
Rich Duprey owns shares of Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Bank of America, Intel, and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Intel, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.