What's going on?
Late on Thursday, $23 billion German healthcare company Fresenius warned investors that profits would be lower than anticipated, leading to its share price declining the most in 20 years on Friday.
What does this mean?
Fresenius has a few business lines – most notably, it runs a bunch of private hospitals and kits out other hospitals with dialysis machines (and provides the requisite services to maintain them). The company said that it expects 2019’s profit to be approximately the same as 2018’s – disappointing most investors who’d predicted an increase. And Fresenius said it’d fall short of its 2020 targets too, blaming weaker growth expectations at its two aforementioned largest businesses.
Why should I care?
For markets: Investors’ blood pressure rose – and Fresenius’ stock fell.
Investors ditched Fresenius’ stock on Friday – it fell by 18%. And its partly-owned subsidiary, Fresenius Medical Care, fell by half that amount too, seemingly because it’s somewhat to blame for the company’s lower profit expectations. There was some good news for the company on Friday, however: US courts stood by Fresenius’ decision to walk away from its planned $4 billion acquisition of drug company Akorn. A look under the hood showed it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be – falling sales and misreported data understandably caused some serious buyer’s remorse.
The bigger picture: Europe’s in questionable health.
Official data released on Friday showed cracks appearing elsewhere in Germany – production by the country’s industrial companies fell in October compared to September, where economists had forecast a rise. Perhaps peculiarly, orders for goods actually rose but that didn’t translate into more stuff being made – at least yet. Just over the border in France, October’s industrial production was higher than expected, leaving the jury still out on whether the European economy is ready to lose its training wheels this month – although the judge has already made his decision (and he thinks it is).