S&P Trio Hit All-Time Highs (COMS, LDK, CHRS, DHR, AAPL, MCD, DISCA, SMI)
Stocks fought their way to gains today during a choppy trading session on light volume. The economic data was pretty good, with consumer confidence up as well as home prices. The first quarter of 2010 ends tomorrow, and undoubtedly investors will be happy to finish the quarter in the green. Interestingly, three S&P stocks hit all-time highs today, Apple (AAPL), McDonald’s (MCD) and Discovery Communications (DISCA), the owner of the Discovery channel and other cable networks.
The major market averages edged up on the day, with the Dow rising 12 points to 10,907. The Nasdaq climbed 6 points to 2,411, while the S&P was up fractionally, closing at 1,173. Gold fell -$5.80 to $1,104.50 an ounce, while oil inched up 20 cents to $82.37 a barrel.
In economic news, the consumer confidence index rose to 52.5 in March, recovering about half of the level it lost in February when it dropped to 46.4 from 56.5 in January, the Conference Board announced. Wall Street was looking for a reading of 50 in March. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Schiller 20-city home price index, meanwhile, rose 0.3% from December to January on a seasonally adjusted basis, spurred on by a surprisingly strong rebound in California. Home prices in Los Angeles rose by 1.8% during the period. Home prices have risen 4% since May 2009, when the declines appear to have bottomed out.
In earnings news, 3Com (COMS), which provides enterprise networking products and solutions, reported surprisingly strong fiscal Q3 profits today. The company earned $41.4 million, or 10 cents per share, for the quarter ended February 26th, compared with $1.9 million, or a penny per share, a year ago. Results were driven by 7% higher sales to $345.9 million and a sharp drop in its income tax provision. Adjusted profits equaled 16 cents per share, double the 8 cents that Wall Street expected. The stock was essentially flat on the day. Twenty-seven pro investors and 119 tickerspy members owned 3Com at the start of the quarter.
The results from LDK Solar (LDK) fell short of expectations. The Chinese solar wafer maker reported a Q4 2009 net loss of -$7.3 million, or -7 cents per share, which was much improved from the -$133 million, or -$1.25 per share, loss it reported for Q4 2008 but well wide of the 12-cent per share profit analysts were expecting. Sales fell by -29% to $304.6 million. The stock closed down -7.8%.
Shares of Charming Shoppes (CHRS) tanked -15.5% after the women’s clothing retailer reported a Q4 loss on sharp declines in same-store sales. The company reported a net loss of -$28 million, or -24 cents a share, compared with a loss of -$114 million, or -99 cents a share, last year. On an adjusted basis, Charming Shoppes said it lost -10 cents, which did top the -13-cent analyst EPS estimate. Sales, however, fell by -15% overall and -12% on a same-store sales basis to $558.6 million. Same-store sales also were down -4% through the first eight weeks of Q1.
Danaher (DHR), a maker of medical and industrial equipment, boosted its Q1 profit outlook yesterday after the market closed. The company now expects to report 90-cents per share in adjusted EPS, well above the 77-82 cents per share range it had previously provided and the 83-cent consensus estimate. The stock jumped 4.5% in today’s trading. Fifty-five pro investors and 132 tickerspy members held Danaher’s shares in their portfolios at the start of the quarter.
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