by Marc Bastow | January 8, 2013 5:04 pm
The worry stick shifted Tuesday, with market watchers turning their attention away from America’s debt ceiling and toward what’s expected to be a dour fourth-quarter earnings season.
Q4 earnings growth forecasts have slid from 9.2% in September to the most recent 2.4%; and the trading day before Alcoa‘s (NYSE:AA) opening salvo reflected that pessimism. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day down 0.41% at 13,328.85, the S&P 500 fell 0.32% to 1,457.15, and the Nasdaq dropped 0.23% to 3,091.81.
To its credit, Alcoa “officially” kicked things off the right way after the bell. The aluminum giant reported a profit of 21 cents per share, exceeding the 18 cents in the year-ago period, with most of those gains coming on cost-cutting. AA shares were up just more than 1% in early after-hours trading.
On Tuesday morning, Monsanto (NYSE:MON) jumped the gun with Q4 earnings that bested estimates, and the company also raised future guidance. Shares jumped up more than 2%, touching a four-year high of around $100 per share before settling in at just over $98.
Shares of video game retailer GameStop (NYSE:GME) dropped more than 6% after the company announced a big dip in same-store sales for the holiday season. GME’s problems were shared across the video game sector, which saw Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA, -4.7%), Take Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO, -3.1%) and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI, -1.7%) all drop on the day.
Shares of Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) declined more than 6% after the retailer announced that CEO Louis D’Ambrosio is stepping down for family reasons, leaving hedge fund manager and Sears chairman Edward Lampert as the new CEO. In the absence of any particular news, shares of fellow retailer JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) shed nearly 5%.
Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) sank more than 4% after the restaurant operator said its fourth-quarter sales in China would be weaker than expected thanks to, among other things, concerns over food safety standards.
Meanwhile, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) shares sank just over 2% after announcing its interest in buying Vodafone‘s (NASDAQ:VOD) 45% stake in their partnership. VOD finished down just more than 1% on the news.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) also dropped 2% after inking a deal with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) that will bring eight television shows to the internet subscription service’s offerings. TWX gained just more than 2%.
Finally, Target (NYSE:TGT) announced it will continue its policy of matching prices from rival stores — including those from Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) — that it started during the holiday season. Investors were unimpressed; the stock fell just over 1% Tuesday.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long VZ and TWX.
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