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Why Southwest Airlines, Weatherford International, and Edwards Lifesciences Slumped Today

The stock market generally lost ground on Wednesday, with some major market benchmarks falling more than half a percent on the day even as the Dow closed the day modestly higher. Earnings reports were the primary movers of stocks in the market, although the higher-profile misses on the earnings front seemed to overshadow the gainers on Wall Street in terms of moving the most popular market indexes. Despite the fact that index movements were relatively small, some stocks made big moves downward. Among them were Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), Weatherford International (NYSE: WFT), and Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW).

Image source: Southwest Airlines.

Southwest loses altitude

Southwest Airlines fell 8% after the company released its third-quarter earnings report. The airline said it expected its core business strength to deteriorate in the coming months, with CEO Gary Kelly saying that slowing growth trends would likely continue into the future. Southwest said revenue per available seat mile fell by more than 4% in the third quarter, and it expects that figure to fall another 4% to 5% in the fourth quarter as well. Southwest is dealing with an industrywide issue of there being too much capacity to meet demand, and competitive situations at key airports like the Dallas-Fort Worth area are putting pressure on Southwest to stand up to rivals. With fears that fuel prices could rise again, Southwest investors are on the defensive after the report.

Weatherford loses money, ground

Weatherford International declined 7% in the wake of its third-quarter financial report. The company said it lost nearly $2 per share on a GAAP basis, and even after making allowances for certain one-time items, adjusted net losses of $349 million amounted to $0.39 per share. Total revenue was down compared to the second quarter, but strong sales in North America came close to overcoming Weatherford's difficulties elsewhere. CEO Bernard Duroc-Danner was optimistic, saying, "the worst of the historical downturn is behind us, and the market is slowly turning." Nevertheless, with operating losses in the North American market widening from year-ago levels, Weatherford needs to concentrate on being as efficient as possible moving forward.

Edwards can't grow fast enough

Finally, Edwards Lifesciences fell 17%. The healthcare company said it saw sales grow by more than 20%, with particular success in its global transcatheter heart valve product line, which grew at nearly twice the rate of the overall business. Yet even with slightly more optimistic guidance, investors weren't impressed with Edwards Lifesciences' outlook. Even with new products like its Sapien 3 valve platform performing better than the company ever expected it to, Edwards Lifesciences still needs to work on making the most of its customer relationships and bringing useful therapy options to patients across the globe.

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