Investors Search For Bearings (FLR, CHD, PCLN, NUAN, KRY)
It was an up and down day on Wall Street with stocks finally ending mixed. After the big losses and gains of the past several sessions tied to the problems and possible solution with Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, a seesaw day seemed appropriate, as investors try to find their bearings. We wouldn’t be surprised by continued volatility in the near term as the market tries to balance a continued recovery in the U.S. and Asia, versus the problems in some EU nations.
Stocks ended mixed, with the Dow and S&P lower and the Nadsaq and small- and mid-cap indices up. The Dow fell -37 points to 10,748, while the S&P dropped -4 points to 1,156. The Nasdaq edged up 1 point to 2,375. Oil slipped -43 cents to $76.37 a barrel, while gold climbed $19.50 to $1,219.90 an ounce.
On the economic front, the Commerce Department announced that wholesale inventories increased 0.4% in March for the third month in a row, coming in slightly below economist estimates of a 0.5% gain.
In earnings news, construction and engineering company Fluor (FLR) reported that its Q1 profit dropped due to a decline in revenue in its oil and gas segment. For the period ended March 31st, net income was $136.6 million, or 76 cents a share, which topped estimates by two cents. A year ago Fluor earned $204.8 million, or $1.12 a share. Revenue sank -15% to $4.92 billion. Looking forward, the company reaffirmed its 2010 forecast of $2.80-$3.20 compared to analyst estimates of $2.98. Shares of the stock moved up 3.1%.
Shares of Church & Dwight (CHD) tumbled -3.4% despite the company posting better-than-expected Q1 results. The consumer products company also forecast Q2 earnings below expectations. For the quarter, net income was $80.0 million, or $1.11 per share, compared with $62.6 million, or 88 cents per share, last year. Analysts were looking for EPS of just $1.08. Sales grew 9% to $634.6 million. For Q2, Church & Dwight guided for EPS of 93-95 cents versus the 98-cent consensus. A total of 12 pro investors counted the stock among their top 15 holdings at the start of Q1, while 76 tickerspy members included the stock in their portfolios.
Travel website operator Priceline.com (PCLN) said it expects its Q2 results to be negatively affected by the recent volcano eruption in Iceland, civil unrest in Thailand, and debt concerns in Europe. Its shares plunged -12.1% on the news. For the January-March quarter, the company earned $53.9 million, or $1.06 a share, up from $25.0 million, or 53 cents a share, a year earlier. Adjusted EPS was $1.70, which easily beat the consensus of $1.66. Revenue rose to $584.4 million from $462.1 million. For Q2, Priceline expects EPS of $2.50-$2.70, less than estimates of $2.83. A total of 37 pro investors counted the stock among their top 15 holdings at the start of Q1, while 311 tickerspy members included the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of Nuance Communications (NUAN) fell -5.5% after the company swung to a loss during its second quarter. For the period ended March 31st, the speech-recognition software maker lost -$15.4 million, or -5 cents per share, compared with a profit of $5.3 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted EPS was 28 cents, a penny more than estimates. Revenue jumped 19% to $273 million, while adjusted revenue was $292.8 million.
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