Third quarter earnings season boosted U.S. stocks. Broad market indices reached all-time highs and kept gaining until a modest speed bump in recent sessions. But not every stock participated in the rally.
Indeed, several well-known names stumbled badly after their third-quarter reports, including Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM). But the news was even worse for the biggest earnings losers in the third quarter.
These three stocks aren’t necessarily the stocks that saw the biggest decline after earnings, though one of them is. But for all three companies, third-quarter earnings materially and negatively changed the long-term outlook. Intrepid investors may look to buy the dip — but after these reports, significant caution is advised.
Party City (PRTY)
Among stocks with a market capitalization above $100 million, Party City (NYSE:PRTY) appears to have posted the largest post-earnings decline after Q3. PRTY stock fell a stunning 67% in a single session after posting a surprise loss and cutting its full-year outlook for the second time.
There is an intriguing case to step into the decline. Party City stock looks ridiculously cheap at roughly 2x — yes, just two times — its earnings per share guidance for 2019. A helium shortage has limited Party City’s sales, taking 210 basis points off same-store sales in the third quarter. Brick-and-mortar retail is a fraught business at the moment, but Party City does sell through Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and e-commerce competition in its vertical would seem to be limited.
Investors haven’t bought the dip, however: PRTY stock actually is down another 12% from its post-earnings close. And there are significant risks. Most notably, Party City has a potentially dangerous debt load of just over $2 billion. That’s more than 6x the company’s guided Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) — a dangerously high multiple.
And that debt colors the story here. Retailer Michaels Companies (NASDAQ:MIK) too trades below 3x forward earnings — with a lighter, if still risky, debt load. Investors have shown in recent years that they don’t trust retailers in general, and particularly those with debt concerns. Party City has a long road ahead to change that opinion.
Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) picked the wrong time to provide disappointing guidance. As growth stocks generally were struggling in late October, the company missed Wall Street estimates for revenue and gave a below-expected outlook.
PINS stock already had declined heading into the report amid valuation concerns. It dropped another 17% after earnings, and the pressure has continued. Pinterest stock sits near its all-time low, and now trades below its initial public offering price of $19.
Here, too, there’s a case for stepping in, as Will Ashworth argued last month. Pinterest still is posting impressive revenue growth. Adjusted EBITDA turned positive in the quarter. Q3 results don’t necessarily look disastrous, but rather closer to modestly disappointing.
And there are echoes of Snap (NYSE:SNAP) in the report. Slower U.S. user growth is a concern, as it was for Snap not long after its IPO. International monetization disappointed in the early going for both companies. In the Q3 release, Pinterest’s CEO cited a redesign of the site and app in the quarter, akin to what Snap did back in 2017. SNAP stock would fall below its IPO price and keep falling.
Of course, in retrospect it seems like Snap’s redesign was the right move all along, and SNAP stock has been one of the market’s best in 2019. The concern here is that even if history repeats itself, PINS story looks like a 2020 story at best, and a falling knife in the meantime.
Dollar Tree (DLTR)
Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR), too, picked the wrong time for disappointing guidance, but for different reasons. While weak earnings and soft guidance made Dollar Tree one of the biggest earnings losers from Q3, its rivals were posting impressive numbers.
Indeed, Dollar General (NYSE:DG) just this week beat analyst expectations and raised full-year guidance. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) posted a strong quarter. So did Target (NYSE:TGT). It certainly looks like consumer spending on the low-to-middle end of the spectrum is strong. It also appears that Dollar Tree is losing share.
In that context, a 15% sell-off to a 2019 low hardly seems surprising. And while DLTR stock has posted a modest rally in recent sessions, this doesn’t look like a “buy the dip” scenario. As tough as retail is at the moment, it seems safest to stick with the winners. And, at least for now, Dollar Tree doesn’t look like one of those winners.
As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned.