Earnings, Outlooks Fuel Rebound For Stocks (XOM, PG, MOT, POT, BC)
Good earnings and improved outlooks from some key companies fueled today’s rally. The gains of the last two days have helped the major averages recoup much of their losses from Tuesday’s sell-off. Signs that Democrats and Republicans are nearing a compromise on financial regulatory reform helped bank stocks as it was uncertainty over whether Congress would pass a bill that was causing the volatility. As with the healthcare debate, once the bill became law the market started to sort out the winners and losers. The same thing will happen in the financial sector.
All of the indexes moved up today. The Nasdaq led the charge, up 1.6%, or 40 points, to 2,512. The S&P climbed 1.3%, or 15 points, to 1,207, while the Dow gained 1.1%, or 122 points, to reach 11,167. Oil rose $1.95 to $85.17 per barrel. Gold, meanwhile, fell -$2.90 to $1,168.40 an ounce.
On the economic front, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims declined by -11,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 448,000, in line with economist estimates. The monthly average fell -9,000 to 4.64 million, the lowest level since January 2009.
In earnings news, shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) edged down -0.8% despite the company reporting that its Q1 profit jumped 38%, driven by higher oil prices. For the quarter, the oil company earned $6.3 billion, or $1.33 a share, up from $4.55 billion, or 92 cents a share, a year ago. The consensus was for EPS of $1.41. Revenue surged 41% to $90.25 billion. Yesterday Exxon raised its dividend to 44 cents from 42 cents. A total of 861 pro investors counted the stock among their top 15 holdings at the start of Q1, as did 2,172 tickerspy members.
Shares of Procter & Gamble (PG) dropped -1.5% on news that its Q3 profit was nearly flat, partly due to charges from the recently passed healthcare reform. For the quarter, net income was $2.59 billion, or 83 cents per share, compared with $2.61 billion, or 84 cents per share, last year. Adjusted EPS was 89 cents. Analysts were looking for adjusted EPS of 82 cents on revenue of $19.5 billion. Sales climbed 7% to $19.2 billion. The company raised the low end of its full year guidance range by 4 cents to EPS of $4.06-$4.12; analysts were expecting $4.14. For Q4, P&G guided for a 6-7% rise in sales with EPS of 68-74 cents, compared to the consensus of 76 cents.
Announcing better-than-expected Q1 earnings, Motorola (MOT) beat its own forecasts and sent its shares 3.5% higher. For the quarter, the mobile phone maker earned $69 million, or 3 cents per share, compared with a loss of -$231 million, or -13 cents per share, a year earlier. This beat the company’s own guidance of a loss of -1 to -3 cents for the quarter, and also topped analyst estimates of a loss of a penny. Revenue slipped -6.1% to $5.04 billion. Looking forward, Motorola expects EPS of 7-9 cents for Q2, compared with the 3-cent consensus. A total of 22 pro investors counted the stock among their top 15 holdings at the start of Q1, as did over 650 tickerspy members.
Shares of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT) gained 1.5% after the company said its Q1 profit rose 46%. For the period ended March 31st, the fertilizer producer posted a profit of $449.2 million, or $1.47 a share, coming in ahead of the $1.30 consensus. Last year net income was $307.4 million, or $1.01 a share. Sales increased to $1.71 billion from $922.5 million. For 2010, Potash anticipates EPS of $4.50-$5.25, up from its previous outlook of $4.00-$5.00. This fell short of the $5.52 expected by analysts. The company guided for $1.00-$1.30 in Q2, less than the $1.46 consensus.
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