The worst three performing ASX 200 shares in May unmasked

Investors were hitting the sell button on these three ASX 200 shares in May. But why?

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) closed up 0.5% in May, but it certainly wasn't helped by these three ASX 200 shares.

Below we look at the three companies on the benchmark index receiving the ignominious prize as the worst performers over the month just past.

Three ASX 200 shares down 16% to 19% in May

Starting with the best of the worst three performers, in terms of share price, we have Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (ASX: TAH).

The Tabcorp share price ended April trading for 74 cents. When the closing bell rang on 31 May, shares were swapping hands for 62 cents, putting the ASX 200 share down 16.2% over the month.

There was no fresh price sensitive news from the wagering and gaming products and services company in May. There were a few media reports on potentially inappropriate workplace language taking place at the company, as well as a minor being allowed to gamble at one of its venues.

But Tabcorp's big May fall largely looks to be in line with the selling trend that commenced in September 2023. Despite a slight uptick today, the Tabcorp share price is now down 46.8% over 12 months.

Moving on to the second-worst performing ASX 200 share in May, we have Fletcher Building Ltd (ASX: FBU).

The Fletcher Buildings share price closed out April trading for $3.47 and ended May at $2.84 a share, down 18.2%.

Most of the pain for the building and materials company came on 13 May following an uninspiring market update.

Shares closed the day down 10.9% after the New Zealand-focused company reported on "weakened" market conditions in its materials and distribution divisions.

This led to a significant reduction in the company's FY 2024 earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) guidance. Management's revised guidance of EBIT before significant items of $500 million and $530 million came in well below the prior guidance of $540 million to $640 million.

Up 3.0% today, the Fletcher Buildings share price is down 36.6% over 12 months.

Which brings us to the worst-performing ASX 200 share in May, Eagers Automotive Ltd (ASX: APE).

The Eagers Automotive share price ended April at $12.64 and closed out May at $10.12, down a painful 19.9%.

Most of those losses came on 22 May, when shares in the auto retailer closed down 15.0%.

That dramatic fall came on the heels of a trading update, which highlighted expected ongoing headwinds from inflation, interest rates and competition.

Eagers Automotive CEO Keith Thornton noted that given the difficult market conditions, "We expect to achieve an underlying trading performance for the first half of 2024 that is approximately 85% of the underlying profit before tax for the first half of 2023."

Edging higher today, the ASX 200 share is now down 20.1% over 12 months.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Eagers Automotive Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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