The stock market continued its roller-coaster ride today as investors turned their eyes back to the economic troubles Europe is facing. Energy stocks — and the oil and gas industry in particular — stood out as underperformers as oil prices continued to slump.
The S&P 500 Index shed 2.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was erased more than 334 points by the end of the day.
Let’s take a look at what made these stocks bleed red today:
The Gap Inc. (GPS)
Apparel mainstay Gap fell steeply on Thursday, as a double-whammy of bad news spooked away investors and sent GPS stock plunging by more than 12%.
The big headline today was the unexpected departure of seven-year CEO Glenn Murphy, who will step down on Feb. 1 and hand the reins over to Art Peck, who currently leads Gap’s digital division.
Also hampering Gap were some ugly numbers reported yesterday. When you take a look at retail stocks, remember that for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, same-store sales is the holy grail of metrics. So it goes with the parent of household brands like Old Navy and Banana Republic. GPS stock took a beating today after the company announced unflattering same-store sales growth, as SSS ticked up just 1% this September compared to a year ago.
It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at The Gap right now, but whatever it is, investors don’t like it, and I cant blame them.
First Solar (FSLR)
Shares of solar energy panel manufacturer First Solar also suffered heavy losses Thursday along with the rest of the solar sector. FSLR stock fell 9.2% in today’s session despite nothing in the way of company-specific developments. It was ugly across the board, from individual companies such as Trina Solar (TSL, -5.6%) and SunPower (SPWR, -8.7%) to the broad-based Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN, -5.7%).
That said, while First Solar didn’t give the market much reason to sell today, analysts aren’t crazy about the stock. For instance, Merrill Lynch has an “underperform” rating on First Solar in light of its exposure to Japan, where solar power is catching on far slower than Wall Street expected.
Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
Lastly, shares of Oklahoma’s own Chesapeake Energy slumped 7% today. CHK stock is a pure play on natural gas and oil prices, and with oil hovering around $86 a barrel on Thursday and natural gas trading about 40% below its 52-week highs, CHK shares are understandably under pressure.
If you’re losing big on CHK, take solace in the fact that you’re not the only one. In fact, famed activist investor Carl Icahn, who publicly petitioned Apple (AAPL) to use its $133 billion cash pile on a share buyback today, is down more than $70 million on CHK stock.
However, CHK should rebound with energy prices, whenever that occurs, so if you’re on the fence think twice before shedding Chesapeake.
As of this writing John Divine owned shares of AAPL stock. You can follow him on Twitter at @divinebizkid.