The S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.98%) is once again at record highs, having recovered sharply in February on the strength of several key sectors. But for many of the stocks that helped propel the S&P (^GSPC) higher last year, 2014 has been a nightmare. In particular, Best Buy (BBY 1.92%) and GameStop (GME 1.21%) have lost roughly a third and a quarter of their value in just two months, while Starbucks (SBUX 1.25%) and Amazon.com (AMZN -1.34%) have made more modest retracements of around 10% so far this year after solid results in 2013.
For Best Buy (BBY), holiday-quarter performance was the primary reason for the retailer's underperformance. Amid pressure from heavy promotional activity throughout the industry, the company saw a 0.8% decline in same-store sales, and that announcement caused the stock to almost 30% in a single day. Even as the company has seen some success in bolstering its online sales, Best Buy (BBY) will have to show that the progress it made in 2013 wasn't just a single-year fluke that won't be sustainable in 2014 or beyond. In that vein, the company's more recent full earnings release gives investors some hope that it will be able to recover fully, given enough time.
GameStop (GME) has had to deal with the same general problems, with weak sales during the holiday season being especially disappointing given the release of two major new game consoles into the video game market. Yet GameStop's (GME) problems are also more fundamental, as console-makers and video game designers aim to eliminate the retailer's middleman status and offer more direct conduits for gamers to get their hands on new titles. With such a fundamental threat to its business model, the video game retailer once again has to find new ways to get people into its retail locations.
Meanwhile, Starbucks (SBUX) and Amazon (AMZN) have had more modest setbacks lead to small corrections for their shares. In Starbucks' case, rising coffee prices pose a threat, as does the trend toward for less traffic in brick-and-mortar retail where its coffee shops often rely on shoppers for business. Yet the coffee giant hopes that its popular loyalty program and its diversified mix of beverages will keep driving customers through its doors. Amazon (AMZN) had an ugly earnings report, with revenue growth falling short of investors' ambitious expectations. Yet as usual, the online-retail giant is casting its lot on its long-term prospects, continuing to willingly sacrifice immediate profits for the sake of future growth. Investors occasionally lose patience with that approach, but eventually, Amazon (AMZN) will shift toward a more present-focused strategy that could produce the profits that investors have long dreamed of.
Obviously, it's too early to be certain after just two months whether 2014 will prove to be a lasting reversal of fortune for these four stocks. Still, with early signs pointing to some new challenges, these companies will have to work harder to avoid giving back more ground in the months to come.