China has become the largest economy in the world by one measure, and the emerging-market giant has made its presence felt in the global financial markets throughout this week. Fears about further slowdowns in the Chinese economy had a ripple effect across the globe on Thursday, and U.S. stock-market benchmarks fell 2% to 3% in response to those fears. Energy prices hit new lows, and among the worst-performing stocks in the U.S. market were KB Home (NYSE:KBH), JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS), and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR).
KB Home fell 15% after the homebuilder reported fourth-quarter results that fell well short of what investors had expected to see. Although KB Home said that it delivered the most homes in any fourth quarter since 2009, revenue missed estimates by about 10%, and earnings of $0.43 per share were $0.08 shy of the consensus forecast among investors.
An 8% rise in average selling prices shows how robust the housing market has been over the past year. But with weakness in the number of customers ordering new homes, and with narrowing margins, KB Home is showing investors the challenges of dealing with the housing market and the high expectations of homebuyers right now.
JinkoSolar plunged 19%, leading a host of Chinese solar companies lower. The solar industry in China has been heavily dependent on support from the national government, and many companies have taken on considerable debt in an attempt to compete against each other and with their international rivals.
Moreover, the level of uncertainty in the solar market has risen lately, with a combination of indebted solar-installation companies and regulatory actions that could endanger the red-hot residential solar market, putting pressure on panel producers like JinkoSolar. If China rebounds, then JinkoSolar likely will rise with it, but the Chinese solar industry still needs substantial further consolidation in order to get in a position where only the strongest companies remain.
Finally, Caesars Entertainment dropped 11%. The casino company has been dealing with financial troubles for a while now, and controversy over the bankruptcy filing of one of its subsidiaries has landed the parent company in litigation, as well. A judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that Caesars Entertainment will have to go to trial to answer two lawsuits filed by bondholders of its operating unit, calling into question whether the parent will be able to rely on the bankruptcy filing to protect it from further liability.
Creditors argue that a series of corporate restructuring transactions improperly sheltered Caesars Entertainment assets from their reach, and they'd like to pull the parent company's assets back into the mix. If that happens, then it could create far-larger problems for Caesars Entertainment, even as the casino company has benefited from its U.S. exposure at a time when most of its rivals are struggling in the Asian gaming capital of Macau.