Tuesday Losers: Micron Technology, Baidu.com and Barnes & Noble

Among the biggest losers in Tuesday’s early trading are Micron Technology (NYSE: MU), Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS).

Top Percentage Losers –Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Loss
52-Week High 52-Week Low
Barnes and Noble
$13.74 16.3% $28.78 $13.58
Micron Technology  (NYSE: MU) $8.76 -12.6% $11.40 $4.55
Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU) $69.37 6.8% $82.29 $26.80

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 10:30AM Eastern Standard Time. Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

Micron’s Mixed Bag

Shares of Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) are trading down -12% this morning after the memory chip maker delivered decent results on Monday evening, but a slightly cautious near-term outlook. Shares had looked set to open with more modest downside, but a Tuesday morning rout in the Nasdaq is really sinking this boat. For a fuller look at Micron’s quarter, and its impact on the peer group, please click here.


Baidu gets Company (again)

“Nothing good lasts forever.” That’s the sentiment being expressed by investors in Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU) this morning. When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) got into a very public spat with the Chinese government, and eventually exited the Chinese search market, Baidu.com quickly saw its market share surge. That helped boost shares from around $12 to above $80 in just 18 months.

#-ad_banner-#So when you see a headline that Google is looking to make amends with the Chinese government, you know that Baidu.com investors can’t be happy. They are pushing shares down -6% on Tuesday, but if history is any guide, they have further to fall.

Not only would Google steal back some sales momentum, but concerns are also mounting that the Chinese economy may be starting to cool. Baidu.com would still be able to pound out impressive growth, as Internet penetration rates should keep rising, but currently-forecasted growth rates might be unachievable. Analysts currently expect sales to rise nearly +70% this year, and another +50% in 2010.

Action to Take –> Analysts may need to ratchet back down their earnings forecasts, which had been sharply rising recently. Lower projected earnings, coupled with a more sober target price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) multiple, could push shares back down toward the $60 or even $55 mark. It’s hard to short a momentum stock, but Baidu.com looks to be losing its momentum.


Barnes & Noble’s Rose-Colored Glasses

Shares of Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) are off –15% after the nation’s largest retail bookstore chain delivered impressive quarterly sales results but a larger-than-expected loss on Monday evening guidance. Of greater concern, the forward outlook was disappointing. Management intends to heavily invest it its website and e-reader business, which will lead to a drop in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the coming fiscal year, and a likely GAAP loss.

Betting the ranch on digital books is a risky move. As we noted in this column, Barnes & Noble may be ill-equipped to compete with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) in the online categories. If history is any guide, Amazon, will sacrifice near-term profits in order to create profit woes for BKS. That could lead BKS to eventually scale back its digital initiatives, providing Amazon.com with a long-term competitive moat.

And an increased emphasis on digital books means that sales may be negatively impacted by piracy, as has happened in the music industry over the last decade. Book readers tend to be a better and older demographic than music buyers, so the piracy levels won’t be as high, but they could still eat away at core growth rates.

Action to Take –> Barnes & Noble has no choice but to play offense here, but does not look to have the strongest hand. Despite hitting a new 52-week low, there’s no need to bottom-fish. Shares are unlikely to fall below the $12 mark, though, as the company’s considerable retail footprint still holds appeal.