Why these 4 shares crashed on the market today

Credit: Patrick McKnight

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) gained 0.5% today after yesterday’s loss, continuing to dance just under the 5,000 points mark as investors are unsure of where the market is headed next.

Certainly with the big four banks and many major miners facing business pressures, we could well go lower. Be that as it may, several stocks fell heavily today despite the market’s overall rise, and here’s why:

Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH) crashed 15% to $0.62 in continuing volatility after management announced this morning that they continue to work with auditors and advisors to firm up its cash-flow figures for the half-year results which are to be released on 29 February. The announcement was no doubt disappointing to investors who expected an actual update on company cash flows rather than the generic ‘continues to work with’ line.

Slater & Gordon shares are now down 88% for the year.

AWE Limited (ASX:AWE) lost 11% to $0.50 today as some of the gloss wore off from the company’s asset sale announcement yesterday. AWE sold some of its assets in the United States in order to pay down its remaining debt and provide the cash (an estimated A$60m will be left over) to fund development of its Waitsia gas field in Western Australia.

While AWE shares might look cheap at today’s prices – down 57% in the past year – the commercialisation of its assets will be expensive and risks regarding gas prices remain.

WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED (ASX: WHC) fell 5% to $0.39 on no news, possibly as a result of Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) announcing the sale of its Mt Pleasant coal mine, which readers may have felt indicated a poor future ahead for coal miners. The most recent quarterly report from Whitehaven appeared positive with improvements to output and ‘cash margins’ (before overheads) of $13/tonne.

Whitehaven shares are down 68% in the past year.

Lovisa Holdings Ltd (ASX: LOV) plunged 34% to $2.42 after a first half update revealed falling gross margins (still a staunch 75%) and pressure from a weakening USD, which causes the costs of the company’s imports to rise in Australian dollar terms. Lovisa has implemented price rises to claw back some of the margin, although this in itself carries risks to sales volumes. Shareholders might reasonably expect margins to come under pressure again in the second half, as the Australian dollar has weakened further against the US dollar in the past six months.

Lovisa shares are down 4% for the year.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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