Stocks are warning that the consumer is not alright

Shares of Starbucks, DoorDash, and Netflix plunged after downbeat earnings

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Happy Friday, market watchers.

Apple crushed earnings after hours on Thursday.

The company announced a $110 billion share buyback — the biggest ever —and the stock jumped overnight.

As for this morning, we’re turning our attention to a handful of fan-favorite consumer brands that saw their stocks tank this week.

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The consumers are not alright

The Federal Reserve has touted the resilience of the American economy for months. 

But a handful of crashing stocks illustrate that the strength isn’t evenly distributed.

Weak earnings from Starbucks, DoorDash, Netflix, and eBay this week showed how consumers are tightening their belt. 

Each of those four stocks tumbled double-digits over the last several days.

Executives across the board alluded to fewer customers, more penny-pinching, and uncertain outlooks.

"We continue to feel the impact of a more cautious consumer, particularly with our more occasional customer," said Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan on Tuesday, after the company reported a 6% drop in foot traffic. 

To be clear, these stocks aren’t typical bellwethers for the strength of the economy or consumer. 

The majority of S&P 500 companies have so far shared upbeat earnings. 

But the people seeing credit card and auto loan delinquencies skyrocket aren’t typically the ones benefiting from quarter-over-quarter gains in shareholder value.

Multiple financial headaches are converging on everyday Americans: 

  • Inflation changes spending habits 

  • Everyday items are more expensive

  • Housing affordability is at a historic low

There’s a disconnect between the economic data and how people actually feel. 

No matter what Jerome Powell says, there isn’t any strong economic data that sounds like good news to someone focused on stretching every dollar to make ends meet.

Indeed, consumer confidence in April fell to its lowest mark in nearly two years. 

So, when the typical consumer spends less money, the companies that cater to them will see less business. 

And when corporations acknowledge as much, Wall Street takes notice. 

“Young people want to buy a house and they now have to pay more for a mortgage, so they have to cut back on other discretionary items,” Carson Group global strategist Sonu Varghese told me.

“That’s one path consumption-related companies can get hit.”

It’s true that US GDP is still outpacing countries across the pond and the unemployment rate remains low. 

Yet worker wages continue to rise, making the limited number of available workers more expensive to hire for companies.

“The demand side here is certain consumers are hurting,” Varghese said.

“The supply side is you have certain companies that rely on cheaper labor, which is not available anymore.”

*At a glance:

*Data as of Friday 1:15 a.m. ET


  • Wall Street cheered Apple earnings, but the iPhone-maker saw softer sales numbers in the first quarter. Revenue dropped 4% on account of new rivals in China emerging. (WSJ)

  • Bond traders now expect a rate cut in November. The recalibration comes ahead of a key jobs report due Friday morning that could provide more clues to the central bank’s next move. (Bloomberg)

  • Apollo and Sony want to takeover Paramount. The two companies sent a letter to the Paramount board expressing formal interest in a $26 billion takeover. Shares of Paramount spiked. (CNBC)


  • Japan used $59 billion to intervene and prop up its currency (FT)

  • Google’s landmark antitrust trial is set to conclude in DC (Business Insider)

  • Hong Kong stocks are on their longest winning streak in roughly six years (Bloomberg)

  • An American oil tycoon has been accused of conspiring to inflate crude prices (CNN)

  • The US housing market saw inventory climb 30% year-over-year in April (ResiClub)

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