QVC owner plummets 21% on sudden sales slowdown

Diving down dive
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Shares of Liberty Interactive Corp. QVC Group closed down more than 21 percent Friday afternoon to a fresh 52-week low after reporting earnings and a "more cautious" outlook.

The earnings release noted that U.S. sales for QVC began to experience "significant headwinds" in early June and the sales declines "have averaged in the mid to high single digit percentages" as compared to prior periods.

The company also said "there is no guarantee" its efforts to reverse the negative trends will have a positive effect and that "U.S. net revenue and adjusted (operating income before depreciation and amortization) will likely experience negative growth rates for the third quarter."

QVC includes Liberty Interactive subsidiaries QVC and Zulily, and its interest in HSN. The company said profit rose 13 percent in the second quarter to $127 million from the same period last year. Revenue increased 21 percent to $2.4 billion.

"We reported solid second-quarter results, with good sales growth in most markets," Mike George, president and CEO of QVC, said in the release.

George said the company saw a deceleration in demand in the United States late in the quarter, and that has continued. "As a result, our near-term perspective is more cautious," he said.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett pointed to the company's caution on third-quarter sales.

QVC "notably broke with tradition by calling out a spooky swoon in June that suggests our move to cut third-quarter 2016 U.S. growth to 1 percent may not have gone far enough," he said in a note Friday.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, but it is expected to pick up in the third quarter. One of the strongest elements in second-quarter growth was consumption, up more than 4 percent.

Many economists expect third-quarter growth to top 2 percent, and some see it above 3 percent.

As of intraday trade, shares of Liberty Interactive QVC were more than 30 percent lower for the last 12 months.

Hedge funds own about 14.5 percent of outstanding shares, versus nearly 15.2 percent ownership by mutual funds and 51.8 percent by investment advisors, according to FactSet.

QVCA 2-year performance

Source: FactSet