Shares of Blue Apron (NYSE: APRN) were heading lower again today, falling by double-digits for the third time this week on broader market chaos. Stocks were down broadly today on fears of a government shutdown and as general Washington chaos shook investors. As of 3:22 p.m. EST, the S&P 500 was down 1.8%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.7%. Falling in tandem were shares of the meal-kit service, which had given up 15.6% at the same time.
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There was no real news out on Blue Apron today, though the company did announce a new partnership with Weight Watchers. However, that seemed to have little effect on the stock.
What seemed to rattle the stock is that it's becoming clear that almost no one wants to own the meal-kit provider in a market crash, for a number of reasons. First, shares have now slipped below $1, and if they stay there for more than 30 days, the company runs the risk of being delisted form the New York Stock Exchange, which would only damage the stock further. Management could also do a reverse split to prop up the share price, but that would be an unwelcome sign of weakness as well.
Second, Blue Apron is not the kind of stock investors flock to in a recession or a bear market. In such conditions, investors tend to look for defensive plays that offer dividend payments and reliable profits even in weak economies. As a loss-generating business with rapidly declining revenue, Blue Apron offers neither growth nor safety -- just risk.
Management has set a goal of delivering adjusted EBITDA profitability next year, which would certainly be a step in the right direction, but it's hard to make a bull case for the stock when its customer base and revenue are fast depleting. The meal-kit industry is changing fast, with several acquisitions this year and big supermarket chains moving into the space. At this price, the company may field some buyout offers, and it may be wise to accept any decent ones since going it alone is looking increasingly like a dead end for Blue Apron.
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