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Why Frontier Communications, Groupon, and BP Prudhoe Bay Slumped Today

By Dan Caplinger – Mar 9, 2016 at 6:32PM

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The bull market turned seven years old today, but these stocks missed out. Find out why.

Image source: Groupon.

Investors love celebrating anniversaries, and today marked the seventh anniversary of the stock market's lows in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. Wednesday's trading showed guarded optimism about the market's current prospects, and major market benchmarks posted modest gains of less than half a percent. Yet some stocks missed out on the market's broader rise, and some of the worst performers on the day were Frontier Communications (FTR), Groupon (GRPN 5.69%), and BP Prudhoe Bay (BPT -0.49%).

Frontier Communications dropped 9% after the telecom provider suffered a downgrade from analysts at Citi Research. The analysts also reduced their price target by 20% to $4 per share, arguing that the telecom faces a long-term financial issue that will eventually force Frontier to eliminate its dividend. Despite excitement about Frontier's pending acquisition of the extensive wireline business of Verizon in key states including California, Texas, and Florida, Citi believes that the end of federal subsidies for certain telecommunications services within five years will put too much strain on Frontier's cash flow. Moreover, if the acquisition doesn't go as well as expected -- something that Citi fears could come to pass -- then investor disappointment could put further pressure on shares.

Groupon fell 10% in the wake of negative commentary from analysts at UBS today. Picking winners and losers in the e-commerce space, the analysts said that they believe Groupon will eventually lose out to much larger players in the industry. Groupon doesn't have as extensive a reach into the mobile space as some of its bigger rivals, and its relatively modest financial resources limit its ability to ramp up and present a greater competitive challenge. Moreover, because Groupon will have to dedicate so much of its budget toward internal investment and innovation, earnings could remain under pressure for a long time. Investors already haven't been entirely comfortable with the company's change in business model, and if other industry players start to challenge Groupon more head-on, then its future prospects could grow dimmer.

Finally, BP Prudhoe Bay sank 23%. Investment firm CAS Investment Partners issued a press release concerning the royalty trust this morning, arguing that language in BP Prudhoe Bay's annual SEC 10-K filing includes language that says that royalty payments to the trust will continue through 2020 but then go to zero in the following year. Moreover, no proved reserves are currently attributed to the trust after 2020. Based on recent distributions from the trust, the total expected payout between now and 2020 would be less than half the closing price of the shares on the previous day. CAS Investment Partners revealed it had bought put options to profit from any share price decline, but its warning serves as a good reminder to royalty trust investors to be sure they understand the terms under which trusts make distributions.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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