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Why these 4 shares are getting hammered today

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It has been a far more positive day for local investors today with the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) rising 0.2% to 5,815 points.

The telecommunications and financials sectors have been the biggest contributors to today’s gains, while the energy, gold and utilities sectors have struggled for investor support.

Four shares that are having a particularly difficult day, include:

Bank of Queensland Limited (ASX: BOQ)

The Bank of Queensland share price has plunged more than 4.5% today thanks to the shares trading ex-dividend. The regional bank will pay eligible shareholders an interim dividend of 38 cents per share, which was in line with the previous corresponding period. It comes after the bank blamed low interest rates and intense competition for a 5% decline in first-half earnings per share.

Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN)

The Harvey Norman share price has fallen 3.3% today, despite no news from the company. The most likely reason for today’s fall is the news that Amazon Inc. has confirmed it is actively searching for a large distribution warehouse to begin launching its services in Australia. Along with JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) and other fast moving consumer goods companies, Harvey Norman is seen as one the companies that is most exposed to the threat of Amazon.

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO)

The Santos share price has plunged more than 3% today after the energy company released a weaker-than-expected quarterly update. Unfortunately, production volumes have fallen 6% from this time last year, along with a 9% decline in sales revenue from the previous quarter. On a more positive note, Santos did lower its 2017 forecast free cash flow break-even price to US$34/barrel, down from its earlier guidance of US$36.50/barrel. The company also managed to pay down US$380 million of debt during the March quarter, which means the company now has a net debt position of US$3.1 billion.

a2 Milk Company Ltd (Australia) (ASX: A2M)

The a2 Milk share price has retreated from its all-time highs today, falling more than 2% to $2.92. The shares have enjoyed a spectacular run since the beginning of March. Unlike Bellamy’s Australia Ltd (ASX: BAL), a2 Milk rewarded investors with an exceptionally strong first-half earnings result and positive outlook. Nonetheless, the shares still look expensive in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of A2 Milk. 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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