For better or worse, the market started out the new week just where it left off the old one … on the fence. Although it was back and forth all day, by the time the closing bell rang, the S&P 500 was at 2182.64, only down 0.06% from Friday’s last trade.
Here’s what investors need to know.
Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO)
After logging a heroic rally last week, crude oil was up-ended today, falling more than 3% on the heels of news that overseas exports were rising at the same time the United States active rig count was growing.
The news resulted in an unsurprising impact — energy stocks as a group fell sharply. Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras (ADR) (NYSE:PBR) was off by 4%, while Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) also fell nearly 4%. Marathon Oil led the way though, with MRO falling nearly 7% fueled by news that not one, but two key members of its management team were leaving. CFO J.R. Sult and Vice President of Resource Plays Lance Robertson are both leaving the company effective immediately, for non-specified reasons.
Their exits add a degree of uncertainty for MRO shareholders.
Viacom, Inc. (VIAB)
Like MRO, Viacom shares were off by 4% for a myriad of reasons on Monday.
The most potent bearish prod was news that CEO Philippe Dauman was being forced out as part of a settlement with National Amusements … a theater chain owned by Sumner Redstone, which also has a large stake in Viacom as well as in CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS).
The front lines of the ugly battle were never entirely clear; Shari Redstone, daughter of Sumner Redstone, is a Viacom director, but also the President of National Amusements. Dauman is also a trustee and board member of National Amusements, though Sumner had recently removed some of his authority.
As was the case for MRO shareholders, the uncertainty the change and the strange war brings with it makes it tough to have complete faith in VIAB.
Fanning Monday’s bearish flames for VIAB was the fact that this past weekend’s debut of Paramount’s epic Ben-Hur remake was a flop, grossing only $11.4 million in North America. Viacom owns Paramount.
Zoetis Inc (ZTS)
Last but not least, what was good news for Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) was bad news for biopharma outfit Zoetis. Zoetis executive Paul Herendeen was poached by Valeant Pharmaceuticals to serve as its CFO, replacing Robert Rosiello.
The move comes at a crucial time for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which took a much-needed step in the right direction by hiring Joseph Papas as CEO in April, but still needs a strong, credible management team to continue the turnaround. Inasmuch as many of Valeant’s problems are on the balance sheet, a strong CFO will accelerate the effort.
ZTS fell 2.5% today, as the strong CFO Valeant selected happened to be doing a good job for Zoetis before leaving for what’s presumably a bigger and better opportunity.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.