The Week's Top Stories is a guided tour through the biggest market stories of the week, from winning stocks to brutal dips to the facts and forecasts generating buzz on Wall Street.
It all started with a lackluster earnings report. Walmart reported a 25 percent drop in earnings in the first quarter from the previous year, as inflation and supply chain issues finally caught up with the market-dominating retailer. The report sparked a sell-off that turned into the stock's biggest drop since 1987. Then, in a one-two punch for markets, Target reported an earnings miss and noted that customers were shifting away from higher-margin goods to essentials such as toiletries and food, suggesting that pandemic-era spending habits were finally fading. After that, a retail reckoning swept the market, dragging down the major indices in the process. The Dow Jones plunged almost 1,200 points, and despite a late Friday push, it achieved its worst weekly losing streak in a century with eight straight, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq followed suit, just avoiding bear market territory by ending the week down about 2.78 and 3.18 percent respectively.
- Here's a quick list of just some of the retail stocks that took sizable hits this week: Costco, Dollar Tree, Kohl's, Ross Stores, and Burlington Coat Factory.
Related in retail:
Video game sales declined 8 percent year-over-year, according to market research firm NPD, while sales of gaming hardware increased 16 percent despite supply chain issues.
Until dropping off Friday with the rest of the stock market, one company that was actually having a good week was Boeing. The embattled aviation company successfully launched its Starliner spacecraft, which will rendezvous with the International Space Station Friday evening. The test flight took place two and a half years after a failed launch added to the company's public relations woes. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the Boeing 777 to fly again after an engine failure in 2021. Finally, British Airways owner IAG ordered 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets — a big win for the company against rival Airbus. Too bad the stock market dropped off a cliff this week… This might have been Boeing's moment to shine.
JETBLUE GETS HOSTILE
JetBlue isn't taking no for an answer. After discount airline Spirit turned down its $3.6 billion buyout offer earlier this month, the company made a tender offer to shareholders in what could shake out to be a hostile takeover. JetBlue is now offering $30 per share but will pay its initial bid of $33 per share if Spirit comes back to the negotiating table. Spirit has been resistant because it's skeptical regulators would approve the deal due to antitrust concerns and sees its proposed team-up with Frontier as more likely. Shares of Spirit jumped 11 percent on the news of the bid, softening the impact of this week's sell-off.
- All this M&A intrigue comes as a severe pilot shortage puts increasing pressure on airlines to train and hire new employees or be forced to cut flights amid a rebound in travel that is already straining the industry.
THE FALL OF A HEDGE FUND
One of the great face-offs of the meme-stock craze was retail investors versus the hedge fund Melvin Capital, which memorably had a massive short-position on Reddit-favorite GameStop. This week, that battle has officially ended. Melvin announced that it was winding down and returning funds to investors. The meme-stock craze had left Melvin enfeebled, but the fund tried to claw its way back in 2022. Unfortunately, the stock market had other plans. “I have given everything I could, but more recently that has not been enough to deliver the returns you should expect," wrote founder Gabe Plotkin in a letter to investors. "I now recognize that I need to step away from managing external capital.”