Investors began the day Thursday hoping for a record close for both the S&P 500 and the Dow, and early on, it looked like the market would deliver on those hopes. Yet, by the end of the day, nervousness about Friday's jobs report, and some signs of economic difficulties overseas, weighed on the U.S. stock market, and major-market benchmarks generally posted modest declines for the day. Losses for some stocks were far more substantial, though, with Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), Liquidity Services (NASDAQ:LQDT), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) posting bigger declines than the broader market.
Barnes & Noble sank 13.5% as major investor Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) dramatically cut its ownership of the company. Liberty says it will sell off 90% of the Barnes & Noble stock it owns and, as a result, Liberty's CEO, Greg Maffei, will leave the Barnes & Noble board of directors. After high hopes that Barnes & Noble might be able to salvage something from its Nook electronic reader device, investors have downgraded their opinions on how Barnes & Noble can survive. The saving grace is that disengaging from Liberty might give the bookseller a chance to gain interest from other potential partners, but shareholders aren't counting on that happening.
Liquidity Services fell another 12% as fallout continues following surplus-contract auctions for various property of the Defense Department. Today, Liquidity Services said it had withdrawn from the portion of the auction that covered rolling stock from the Department of Defense, noting that competing bids were too high to give it the service and profit margin it needs. Yet, with declines earlier this week tied to Liquidity Services' having paid more than expected to obtain a contract on the DoD's non-rolling stock surplus, shareholders expect the company to have to cut its profit projections substantially.
Facebook dropped 5% on another bad day for social-media stocks, with FTC complaints against review-provider Yelp (NYSE:YELP) sending that stock down another 7% Thursday, and raising a host of broader issues concerning the way that Facebook and its peers get business. For Facebook, as its business matures, it will increasingly become the target of everyone from hackers trying to take advantage of its growing ecosystem to would-be competitors seeking to characterize the service as being out of touch and antiquated compared to newer, bolder offerings. Nevertheless, with Facebook's eyes on delivering its service to billions of unserved and underserved people in emerging markets, investors in Facebook could well end up having the last laugh against its detractors.