What: Shares of Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) were down 15.6% at 1:40 p.m. Friday after The Wall Street Journal reported [subscription required] that the cosmetics specialist is in talks to sell a stake to an outside investor.
So what: While that might seem positive on the surface -- shares at first climbed more than 6% yesterday on the report -- WSJ noted Avon's talks are being held with private-equity firms, "a sign [Avon] has been unable to find a buyer for the entire company."
For perspective, recall back in April, Avon stock popped after WSJ sources revealed the cosmetics specialist was considering potentially drastic measures to turn around its operations, including the possible sale of its North American business. Others later took Avon's decision to push back its annual meeting until this fall as a likely indication it was stalling to find a buyer for the entire company -- something with which the most recent talks seem to show Avon has had no success.
Now what: There's no guarantee a deal will happen. And striking such an agreement (given the risk involved putting money into Avon's struggling business) could entail selling the stake at a big discount, and/or undertaking a dilutive secondary offering for the purposes of the new investment. With shares already down more than 60% so far in 2015 as of this writing, it's hard to blame current investors for stepping back again amid the uncertainty today's report creates.