Stocks managed to press further into record territory on Wednesday, albeit with far smaller gains than they managed in yesterday's session. The U.S. economy appears to be improving on the employment front, but some questionable figures on factory orders left things a bit ambiguous for investors, who erred on the side of caution in advance of tomorrow's important unemployment-rate and nonfarm payroll numbers.
Despite modest gains for stock markets broadly, Molycorp (NYSE: MCP), Delta Air Lines (DAL -3.31%), and GoPro (GPRO -2.99%) fell back sharply today.
Molycorp dropped 9% as negative comments about the state of the rare-earth metals market continued to drag shares of the mining company downward Wednesday. Prices for rare earths have plunged in recent years, greatly reducing the potential in what many investors once saw as a lucrative opportunity to cash in on demand for the metals used in mobile devices, electric-car batteries, and other high-demand items. A number of analysts have also pointed out that with Molycorp's cash balance on the decline, the possibility that Molycorp could have to do secondary stock offerings in the future to raise capital is weighing further on the share price. Absent an unexpected recovery in rare-earth metals prices, Molycorp will have difficulty recovering the ground it's lost over the past several years.
Delta Air Lines fell 5% as the airline warned that it is seeing excess capacity in its international routes, forcing the company to reduce its fares more than most shareholders had expected. In part, Delta blamed the World Cup for the drop in demand to Latin America, as business travelers postponed trips until the end of the global soccer championship. Even though Delta's domestic performance remains strong, investors have bid up Delta stock far enough that they want to see continued growth from all parts of the business. With greater competition on international routes, Delta doesn't have the same leverage it has domestically to keep a tighter grip on profit margins by pricing fares appropriately.
GoPro plummeted 14%, continuing its topsy-turvy trading activity since going public just a week ago. After a huge jump in its opening days, reports of heavy short-selling activity convinced investors that at least some market participants believe that the stock had gotten ahead of itself. Nevertheless, even after today's drop, the stock is still up 75% from its offering price last week. Moreover, the real test for GoPro will be if it can successfully monetize content that its customers choose to make available on its planned content distribution channels. With success on that front, GoPro could justify its recent performance.