Stocks Shaken by Quake Before Recovering (ANN, ULTA, PLL, CIGX, MED, NSM)
Stocks had a topsy-turvy day, but ended nicely higher. The aftershocks of the huge 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan sent stocks down early, but a relatively calm day in Saudi Arabia, despite the called for “Day of Rage,” bolstered investor sentiment. We continue to believe that stocks are likely to be volatile in the near term, as the market weighs an improving economy versus the risks to it. We think the biggest of the risks is a slowdown in China.
The Tobacco and Tobacco Product Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Star Scientific (CIGX) with a 24% gain. The Fitness and Dieting Stocks Index was the day’s worst performing tickerspy Index, with Medifast (MED) down -24%.
Stocks rose on the day, with the Dow up 59 points to 12,044. The S&P advanced 9 points to 1,304, while the Nasdaq added 15 points to close at 2,716. Oil fell -$1.54 to $101.16 a barrel, while gold moved up $9.30 to $1,421.80 an ounce.
In economic news, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales jumped 1.0% to $387.1 billion in February while January’s reading was revised upward to an increase of 0.7%. Excluding gasoline sales, February retail sales still rose 0.9%. The preliminary March consumer sentiment reading came in at 68.2, well below February’s reading of 77.5. Economists were expecting a March reading of 76.5.
In earnings news, shares of Ann Taylor (ANN) jumped 12.7% after the ladies apparel retailer said its fourth-quarter profit rose to $8.0 million, or 14 cents a share, from $41,000, or breakeven, a year earlier. Sales rose to $515.3 million from $469.1 million. On an adjusted basis, Ann Taylor earned 19 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a profit of 17 cents. The company added that it repurchased $100 million of its own shares during the first quarter.
Shares of Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (ULTA) surged 8.7% after the company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $30.1 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $20.2 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier as revenue rose 20% $437.7 million. Excluding one-time items, the company earned 48 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a profit of 44 cents on sales of $467.3 million. Ulta forecast a first-quarter profit of 29-31 cents a share on revenue of $364-$370 million. Analysts were expecting a profit of 27 cents.
Shares of Pall (PLL), the maker of industrial filtration systems, climbed 6.2% after the company said its fiscal second-quarter profit rose to $76.7 million, or 64 cents per share, from $49.6 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased by 15% to $645.2 million. Excluding one-time items, Pall earned 68 cents a share, well above the consensus estimate of 57 cents. Analysts were also forecasting revenue of $605 million for the quarter. The company also boosted its full-year guidance to $2.80-$2.90 a share, easily topping the consensus estimate of $2.11. Seventeen pros held Pall in their portfolios at the end of last year, and more than 60 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
National Semiconductor (NSM) reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $59.4 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with $53.2 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier as sales slid to $343.9 million from $361.9 million. Analysts were expecting a profit of 24 cents a share on revenue of $351.7 million. The company is forecasting fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $360-$370 million. Analysts were expecting $367.7 million. Shares of the chipmaker rose 3.8%. Three pros held National Semiconductor in their portfolios at the end of 2010, and almost 130 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
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