Why these 4 shares are being hammered today

It has been a disappointing start to the week for investors with the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) adding to yesterday’s losses with another 0.15% decline today.

Four shares that have been particularly hard hit today include:

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT)

Flight Centre continues to be the big story of the day following yesterday’s profit downgrade. The shares have lost a further 6% today and, at one point, traded as low as $30.93 before recovering somewhat. The company blamed a range of factors that will see its full year underlying profit before tax fall between 2%-5% on the prior year’s result of $366 million. Although many market participants were already anticipating an earnings downgrade, the magnitude of the downgrade may have caught some investors off guard. Prior to yesterday’s announcement, Flight Centre was the fourth most shorted stock on the ASX with around 11.4% of its shares in short positions and it will be interesting to see how the next few days play out.

Flight Centre shares have fallen 31% over the past 12 months.

Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH)

Slater & Gordon shares continue to bounce around like a yo-yo with the shares falling more than 5.6% today to 50 cents. This comes after a more than 15% gain on Monday despite no news from the company. The shares are clearly being controlled by speculators and it is virtually impossible to determine where the share price is headed next. Trading volumes are still quite high for a company with a market capitalisation of $187 million, which proves short term traders are in complete control of the share price right now.

Slater & Gordon shares have fallen 92% over the past 12 months.

Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN)

Qantas shares have fallen by around 3% today most likely as a side effect from Flight Centre’s disappointing profit downgrade. Qantas, itself, previously warned that subdued domestic demand would reduce its planned seat capacity and this seemingly has been backed up by Flight Centre’s announcement yesterday. Shares of Qantas have now fallen by more than 21% since the airline updated the market just over a month ago and, with oil prices now stabilising, it looks as though the easy gains may have already been made.

Qantas shares have fallen 15% over the past 12 months.

Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG)

Retail Food Group shares have lost around 2.2% today and around 4.7% since the opening trade on Monday. Although the company has not released any trading or operational updates, the ASX was notified late yesterday through a change of director’s interest notice that outgoing Managing Director, Anthony Alford, recently sold around $2.7 million worth of shares. While the reasons behind the sale are unknown, investors can sometimes be spooked when a member of the management team sells any portion of their holdings. Despite this, Mr Alford still retains a significant stake in the company that far exceeds the number of shares he recently disposed of.

Retail Food Group shares have fallen 22% over the past 12 months.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. 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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