The stock market broke a four-day winning streak on Thursday, and the Dow Jones Industrials fell back below the 18,000 mark after having reached it earlier this week for the first time since mid-2015. Most market commentators blamed the day's losses on the energy sector, because crude oil prices fell slightly to give back some of their impressive recent gains. Yet the ongoing onslaught of earnings reports has also played a role in the market's volatility, and the pace of releases is only set to accelerate into next week. Helping to lead the market down were Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRPT), and United Continental Holdings (NASDAQ:UAL), each of which were among the stocks with the largest percentage declines Thursday.
Las Vegas Sands dropped 9% after releasing disappointing first-quarter earnings. Sales for the casino giant fell almost 10%, pulling net income down by nearly 40% and falling well short of what optimistic investors had expected from Sands. Low win percentages plagued the company's profits, and CEO Sheldon Adelson pointed to a continuing "difficult operating environment" in Macau that hurt the company in its key geographical region. In particular, the contrast between adjusted property operating earnings declines of almost 13% and the 1% increase in that figure when you normalize it for expected long-term casino odds on gaming suggests the hit could have just a one-time impact. Nevertheless, Las Vegas Sands' news hit the entire casino industry, and its peers also saw their shares lose ground Thursday.
Sarepta Therapeutics plunged 44% in the wake of bad news from the FDA for its eteplirsen treatment for muscular dystrophy. An FDA advisory committee will meet on Monday to discuss the treatment, but supporting materials and documentation was released this week, and it continued to show concerns from the drug regulatory agency about the results of clinical studies. The FDA's approach toward evaluating muscular dystrophy treatments has taken close looks at particular trials, and in the case of eteplirsen, comments suggest that an advisory panel might have a tough time recommending the drug. Even if the panel votes against approval, Sarepta still has a chance later in the process. However, investors are nervous that if the FDA and Sarepta can't find a meeting of the minds about process, then time spent on clinical trials could amount to nothing.
Finally, United Continental Holdings fell 10%. The airline reported its first-quarter results Thursday, and investors responded negatively to a downbeat outlook on a key revenue metric. United Continental believes that passenger revenue per available seat mile could fall 6.5% to 8.5% in the second quarter, and that's far worse than what some of its rivals have forecast for the same time period. United Continental has a long history of underperforming its peers on key metrics like this, so investors have been quick to punish the stock when it lags behind its competitors. Earnings were stronger than expected, but United also pointed to the potential for further competitive pressure that could hurt the entire industry going forward if it happens.