Friday was a quiet day for the stock market, with major market benchmarks finishing a week that had seen an unusual amount of calm after a turbulent few months. Even though most stocks saw only minimal moves, a few suffered fairly substantial declines despite the shortened trading day. Among the losers were Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), Dr. Reddy's Laboratories (NYSE:RDY), and Barrick Gold (NYSE:GOLD).
Disney was the worst performer in the Dow Jones index on Friday, falling 3%. The multimedia giant took the hit after an SEC filing revealed that subscriber counts for its key ESPN cable sports network dropped by 3 million during the 2015 fiscal year to 92 million. With the company having sported 99 million subscribers as recently as two years ago, investors are growing increasingly concerned at the evidence that cord-cutting and alternatives to traditional cable viewership are eating into ESPN's profitability. Given that the company has entered into huge multibillion-dollar deals to ensure a continued flow of sports programming well into the future, Disney needs ESPN to reverse its downward move in order to validate its long-term viability. Despite excitement about the coming release of the latest Star Wars movie, Disney gets a huge portion of its revenue and profits from ESPN. Until the situation turns around, Disney could have trouble advancing further from current levels in its stock price.
Dr. Reddy's Labs fell 6% as investors continue to worry about an investigation from the Food and Drug Administration regarding the Indian drugmaker's manufacturing practices. Earlier this month, Dr. Reddy's got a letter from the FDA related to three of its facilities and potential violations that called into question the sterility of its products and other quality-control concerns. Earlier this week, the FDA posted the letter online, providing more details and showing investors the full gravity of the situation. The stock fell sharply on India's stock market on Thursday, and until Dr. Reddy's can deal with the problems that the FDA letter raised, the stock could remain under pressure.
Finally, Barrick Gold fell 4% on another bad day for the precious-metals market. Gold continued its march downward, falling below $1,060 per ounce and hitting levels that the yellow metal hasn't seen since shortly after the financial crisis. As if that weren't bad enough, Barrick in particular has had operational problems, recently cutting its forecast for gold output for the year due to a mechanical issue in an oxygen plant at its Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic. Barrick believes that production will be reduced through mid-January, and given the pricing pressures that the miner is already struggling against, the news marks just the latest in a series of hits that have hurt both Barrick's stock and shares of most of its mining peers throughout the precious-metals industry.