Retail stocks got off to a lousy start Monday, Feb. 5, following the bankruptcy filing of Bon-Ton Stores Inc. late on Sunday evening.
Macy's Inc. (M) shares were down 3% early before bouncing back to a narrower decline. And Sears Holding Corp. (SHLD) continues to plummet after one of its largest shareholders, hedge fund manager Bruce Berkowitz, sold off 8 million shares in late January. The stock was down 2.3% to $2.30 in early trading.
Even J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) , which received a tiny boost of confidence last week as Fitch Ratings Inc. affirmed its long-term credit rating of B+ with a stable outlook, dropped before the bell; the stock was up 4 cents in early trading for a narrow gain.
Bon-Ton, a York, Pa.-based department store chain, filed for Chapter 11 protection as it became growingly distressed. In December, the company missed a $14 million bond payment. As part of its bankruptcy, Bon-Ton announced it has secured up to $725 million in financing from existing lenders led by Bank of America NA (BAC) .
But Bon-Ton won't be the only retailer to default this year. Fitch reported last week that the number of retailers to default on high-yield bonds will double this year from 2017 to total more than $4 billion. Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. LLC and Claire's Stores Inc., both private, are among those that could default.
Meanwhile, the S&P Retail industry index is down nearly 3% since Friday. Retail stocks enjoyed a few months of recovery during the fourth quarter, as consumer confidence hit a 17-year high going into the new year and retailers reported strong holiday sales. But retail isn't an outlier in its recent decline. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 665 points Friday — the sixth-largest single-day point drop in its 121-year history.