High Gas Prices Not Slowing Down Consumers (STLD, PWRD, DOLE, ARP, CRZO, MLAB)
Stocks ended virtually flat on the day after what was an overall strong week. The economic data was a little soft, with consumer confidence and CPI impacted by higher gasoline prices. Higher prices at the pump still remain one of the biggest risks to the market at this point, but thus far it hasn’t seemed to slow down consumers.
The Chinese Online Gaming Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Perfect World Co (PWRD) with a 28% gain. The Dialysis and Kidney Disease Stocks Index was the day’s worst performing tickerspy Index, with Mesa Laboratories (MLAB) down -11%.
Stocks finished mixed with the S&P the sole index finishing positive, gaining 2 points to 1,404. The Dow fell -20 points to 13,233, while the Nasdaq slipped -1 point to 3,055. Oil surged $1.95 to $107.06 a barrel, while gold dipped -$3.70 to $1,655.80 an ounce.
In economic news, consumer sentiment fell to 74.3 in March from 75.3 in February. Economists had expected a March reading of 76.5. Elsewhere, the Labor Department said the consumer price index increased 0.4% last month, matching estimates. The February increase was the largest in 10 months. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1%, just below the 0.2% economists had been looking for.
In earnings news, Steel Dynamics (STLD) said it expects to post first-quarter EPS of 15-20 cents, well below the 36 cents analysts are expecting. The company said lower demand and crimped pricing are behind the lower forecast. Shares of Steel Dynamics, nonetheless, rose 2.1%. Three pros counted Steel Dynamics among their top holdings at the end of Q4 and nearly 300 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of Perfect World surged 27.6% after the Chinese online game developer said its fourth-quarter profit rose to $41.3 million, or 87 cents a share, from $19.7 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Perfect World earned 94 cents a share on revenue of $123.4 million. The company forecast first-quarter revenue of $112.5-$118.7 million.
Shares of Dole Food (DOLE) jumped 11.6% after the company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $4.2 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of -$38.2 million, or -44 cents a share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, the company lost -2 cents a share, but that still beat the -13 cent loss Wall Street had expected. Revenue fell to $1.54 billion from $1.56 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.57 billion. One pro counted Dole among its top holdings at the end of Q4 and 24 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios
MLP Atlas Resource Partners (ARP) said it will pay $190 million to acquire Barnett Shale assets from Carrizo Oil & Gas (CRZO). The assets have proved reserves of 277 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Atlas now expects its distribution for the second half of 2012 to be in a range of 85 cents to 90 cents per limited partner unit, up from its previous outlook of 80 cents per unit. The company also said its 2013 distribution could rise 45% to $2.25-$2.40 per unit. Shares of Atlas surged 31.6%.
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