Key December Sales Numbers on Tap (APKT, UNF, PRGS, YHOO, REE, AEA)
After a weak start following yesterday’s strong rally, stocks managed to end the day flat to up marginally in the case of the Dow. The economic data continues to point to a slow recovery, with factory orders up better than expected and a private trade group projecting retailers achieved good post-holiday sales. U.S. carmakers also reported solid sales gains in December. Many major retailers will report their December sales results tomorrow, which is likely to give the market direction on the day. We’re encouraged by the fact the market rallied from its low point today and remain cautiously optimistic about 2012, though we expect more volatility.
The Rare Earth Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Rare Element Resources (REE) with a 21% gain. The Payday Lender and Pawnshop Stocks Index was the day’s worst performing tickerspy Index, with Advance America Cash Adv (AEA) down -10%.
The Dow Jones Industrial average added 21 points to close at 12,418, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices essentially closed unchanged at 1,277 and 2,648, respectively. Gold added $12.20 to close at 1,612.70 per ounce, while oil added 26 cents to finish at $103.22 per barrel.
In economic news, the Commerce Department said factory orders rose 1.8% in November, topping the 1.7% increase economists expected. The International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group for mall owners, said same-store sales rose 5.3% in the last week of December as shoppers took advantage of good weather to use gift cards and hunt for bargains. Many retailers will report actual sales results for the month of December on Thursday.
In company news, shares of network equipment maker Acme Packet (APKT) plunged 19.2% after the company forecast an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 26-28 cents a share on revenue of $84-$86 million. Analysts were expecting 37 cents per share on revenue of $92.7 million. Six pros counted Acme Packet among their top holdings at the end of Q3 and nearly 260 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Uniform maker UniFirst (UNF) said its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 9% to $25.8 million, or $1.30 per share, from $23.8 million or $1.20 per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 15% to $313 million. Analysts expected a profit of $1.07 a share on revenue of $297.5 million. Shares of UniFirst rose 3.1%.
Shares of enterprise software maker Progress Software (PRGS) tumbled 10.7% after the company issued first-quarter guidance of 25 cents a share on revenue of $120 million, well below the 38 cents and $132 million analysts were expecting. The company’s fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell to $11.7 million, or 18 cents per share, from $21.3 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier as revenue slid 6% to $136.3 million. On an adjusted basis, Progress earned 34 cents in Q4, beating Wall Street estimates by one cent.
Shares of Internet search provider Yahoo (YHOO) fell 3.1% after the company named PayPal President Scott Thompson as its new CEO. Thompson will be Yahoo’s fourth CEO in the past five years. Forty pros held Yahoo in their portfolios at the end of Q3 and nearly 1,440 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
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