Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
As the price of Bitcoin swings wildly, some angry investors in the crypto-currency have taken to the streets, others are calling for government intervention, and still others are simply weeping more than usual. The currency's value has taken a huge hit as one of the most-used Bitcoin exchanges, Mt. Gox, crumbled into nothingness, the apparent victim of cybercrime.
The great thing about investing in stocks, on the other hand, is their liquidity and ubiquity -- good luck starting a "Mt. Stox" in your basementl I'll stick with the NYSE, thank you. The "price" investors pay for this security is the price stability that comes with volume and transparency. And price stability can be awful boring. The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), for example, added just 0.04 points today, or literally 0.00%, to end at 1,845.
This stagnancy didn't seem to affect First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), which channeled its inner bitcoin, slumping 9.1% today. Shares of the largest American solar panel manufacturer got hammered by Wall Street after its fourth-quarter results revealed a troubling trend: First Solar isn't selling as many massive power plants as it once did. Net income fell nearly 60% last quarter as revenue dropped off almost 30% in the same period.
While First Solar's abysmal quarter was an admirable attempt at losing its way to the bottom of the S&P, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (OTC:CHKA.Q) gave First Solar a run for its money. Chesapeake stock lost 4.9%, as fourth-quarter income undercut analyst expectations by more than 30%. In fairness, much of the quarter's weakness was out of the company's hands -- average realized oil and natural gas prices both fell in the fourth quarter, and the company continued to beef up its balance sheets through the sale of valuable assets after ex-CEO Aubrey McClendon left the company financially strained.
Finally, shares of $5 billion telecom services company Frontier Communications Corporation (OTC:FTR) shed 2.8% Wednesday, although the circumstances of its fall from glory are far different from Chesapeake and First Solar. Frontier Communications actually fell in the aftermath of the stock's 10% jump on yesterday, which was sparked by a pleasantly surprising earnings beat. Although sales were flat, Wall Street expected this, and the fact that the business continues to add broadband customers in each successive quarter is a promising trend.