Stocks tumble, Dow drops on bad earnings news

The Associated Press
Wednesday July 25, 2001

NEW YORK — Stock prices dropped sharply Tuesday with the Dow industrials tumbling by triple digits for a second day on a spate of bad news – a wider-than-expected loss from Lucent Technologies, lower profits from Exxon Mobil and revenue warnings from Amazon.com and AT&T. 

“Pretty much all of Corporate America has said the same thing: Second quarter was bad and we don’t know what to say about the future,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. 

Investors have been unable to justify buying stocks while most companies say business isn’t improving. A long list of firms have warned of shrinking profits and slumping sales, and others have said they cannot make accurate projections amid uncertainty about the economy. 

“No one feels they are going to miss a raging bull market if they wait another few weeks for signs of a recovery,” Hogan said. 

Even the prospect of another interest rate cut failed to boost stocks because investors now believe further cuts mean the economy is worse off than they thought. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who testified before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, said another rate reduction might be made if the economy doesn’t improve. 

“It is going to take a while to bottom,” said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee.  

“The market was also hoping that as the second-quarter earnings were reported that there would be more guidance (for the future) and that things are starting to pick up.” 

Investors have been hoping in vain for an economic turnaround since late last year. They believed a recovery would happen in the first three months of 2001, and when that didn’t happen, they focused on the second quarter. Now, hopes for improvement by yearend have waned as companies have slashed revenue and earnings outlooks. 

“The timing is anybody’s guess,” said A.C. Moore, chief investment strategist at Dunvegan Associates in Santa Barbara,.  

Among Tuesday’s losers were companies whose earnings disappointed Wall Street. Lucent slid nearly 19 percent, down $1.47 at $6.43, after announcing it lost 35 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter, wider than the 21 cents analysts expected. The struggling telecom firm also announced plans to cut another 15,000 to 20,000 jobs and eliminate its dividend in an effort to return to profitability. 

Dow industrial Exxon Mobil fell $1.53 at $40.97 on earnings that missed Wall Street’s expectations by 2 cents a share. 

While past earnings are important, analysts say investors are more concerned with what companies have to say about the future – the market’s real weak spot. 

A bleak outlook from Amazon caused the Internet retailer to plunge nearly 25 percent, down $3.97 at $12.06. Amazon, which announced earnings late Monday ahead of expectations, projected 2001 revenue growth of 11 percent to 16 percent, down from previous estimates of 20 percent to 30 percent. AT&T, a Dow component, fell 59 cents to $19.46, after also issuing a revenue warning. 

Losses were sizable and spread across an array of sectors Tuesday. About half of the Dow’s 30 stocks lost more than $1. There were few gainers, another sign that investors believe the economy has hurt most businesses. 

Among the advancers was McDonald’s, which issued bullish statements about growth for the remainder of the year and rose 62 cents to $28.39. Honeywell, which surpassed earnings estimates by 2 cents a share, inched up 4 cents to $36.21. Only two other Dow stocks moved higher — Procter & Gamble advanced 29 cents to $68.09, while Wal-Mart eked out 7 cents to close at $53.10. 

Declining issues outnumbered advancers more than 7 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.41 billion shares, ahead of the 1.17 billion shares traded Monday. 

The Russell 2000 index, the gauge of smaller company stocks, fell 8.44, or 1.8 percent, to 474.26. 

Overseas markets were mixed Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished the day up 2.4 percent. In Europe, however, Germany’s DAX index fell 2.0 percent, France’s CAC-40 declined 1.2 percent and Britain’s FT-SE 100 lost 1.6 percent. 


On the Net: 

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com 

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com