Here’s why these 4 ASX shares crashed on the market today

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) fell heavily again today, losing 2% to 4,896 points after the value of oil fell heavily in the most recent days of trading.

These four shares all fell further than the market today, although investors shouldn’t be surprised to see oil and gas shares featuring prominently among the losers:

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) fell 7% to $2.72 after oil prices plunged. The market doesn’t appear quite so bearish as it was when shares dropped to $2.46 a few weeks ago, but it wouldn’t take much to get back there. Like Origin Energy below, Santos carries a large amount of debt and investors are probably wondering if market conditions could deteriorate further.

Santos’ share price is now down 57% in the past twelve months.

Origin Energy Ltd (ASX:ORG) dropped 7% to $3.71 for the same reasons at Santos – weakening oil and gas prices. While Origin has its domestic electricity business, it also has significant oil and gas exposure thanks to its ~$7 billion commitment to its Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) mega-project which ships LNG to Asia. In addition to reducing cash-flow, lower LNG prices could also hurt the returns on the APLNG investment that Origin stumped up so much cash for.

In the absence of higher prices, investment returns are likely to be substantially lower than anticipated. Origin’s share price is down 57% in the past twelve months.

BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) lost 4% to $14.32, partly thanks to weakening oil and gas prices. Investors may also be still feeling the fallout of yesterday’s credit rating downgrade – including the ominous hint that the rating could fall further if BHP’s progressive dividend policy is maintained. Investors are thus also factoring in a hefty cut to BHP’s trailing 8.5% dividend yield, with some analysts believing it could be cut by as much as half.

As a result, it is no surprise BHP’s share price has headed south recently and is down 44% for the year.

Capitol Health Ltd (ASX:CAJ) fell 7% to $0.17 today as investors continue to sweat on the outcome from the government’s cuts to the bulk-billing scheme for diagnostic imaging services that were announced in December as well as the current review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Although a 5-7% impact on revenue from the government’s cuts (as anticipated by management) doesn’t seem that severe, it could turn out to have a disproportionately big impact on profit thanks to the company’s leverage.

Capitol’s  share price are down 79% in the past twelve months.

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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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