Why Colgate-Palmolive, Unisys, and JetBlue Airways Slumped Today

By Dan Caplinger Markets Fool.com

Friday was an anticlimactic ending to the week for the stock market, as the Dow eased lower by seven points to fall below its record close yesterday. The Nasdaq eased higher by 0.1%, while the S&P 500 fell by the same amount. Investors didn't seem inclined to take major positions, instead looking forward to what they hope will be a winning January and a signal that the rest of the year could go well and extend the eight-year-old bull market even further.

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Yet despite fairly flat performance from the market overall, many stocks fell, and Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL), Unisys (NYSE: UIS), and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) were among the worst performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so poorly.

Image source: Colgate-Palmolive.

Colgate sees trouble ahead

Colgate-Palmolive fell 5% after reporting its fourth-quarter earnings results Friday morning. The consumer-products giant said that it managed to boost adjusted earnings by 2% from year-ago levels, which matched investor expectations. But sales fell by nearly 5% on a substantial drop in global unit volume.

Turmoil in Venezuela was a significant detractor from Colgate's performance, but CEO Ian Cook also warned that "uncertainty in global markets and foreign exchange volatility remain challenging," and he expects just low single-digit percentage gains in earnings per share as a result. Still, the toothpaste maker said that a strong pipeline of new products could help to spur growth if economic conditions cooperate going forward.

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Unisys loses money

Unisys fell 8% in the wake of its fourth-quarter financial report Thursday night. The global information technology company posted a loss of $1.2 million, or $0.02 per share, reversing a modest profit in the year-ago quarter, and sales dropped nearly 9%.

Yet even though investors were disappointed with the results, Unisys CEO Peter Altabef nevertheless maintained an optimistic view, noting that, "as we look to the year ahead, we intend to continue our disciplined financial focus, executing on our vertical go-to-market strategy and differentiating our offerings by building leading security into our full solution set." Shareholders want to see Unisys prove it can compete in a busy space before agreeing with the company's positive outlook.

JetBlue loses altitude

Finally, JetBlue Airways sank 7%. The airline continued its descent after reporting earnings Thursday morning that left investors disappointed. Today, more airlines reported their earnings results, and the consensus appears to be that the industry, on the whole, is seeing a turnaround in profitability. That's a positive sign, but it also makes some investors wary that airlines won't have the discipline to keep capacity in check.

If new aircraft acquisitions lead to greater numbers of available seats, then the corresponding loss of pricing power could hurt airlines, generally, and JetBlue, in particular. As major airlines start looking more closely at competing against JetBlue's more limited routes, the smaller airline will have to look for more ways to differentiate itself and appeal to travelers.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends JetBlue Airways. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.