Hot Stocks and an End-of-Quarter Lift (LEN, WAG, APOL, HOGS, MCP, WZENY)
Stocks took a breather following generally mixed earnings and economic data. Notably, as the quarter comes to a close this week, hotter stocks are seeing a lift while laggards are falling lower as portfolio managers adjust their portfolios to look better for quarter-end statements. While not as bad as year-end, it is a phenomenon we often see, especially in a good market when lagging managers try to chase returns.
The Rare Earth Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Molycorp (MCP) with a 8% gain. The Korea Stocks and ADRs Index was the day’s worst performing tickerspy Index, with Webzen (WZENY) down -17%.
Stocks fell on the day, with the Dow off -44 points to 13,198. The S&P dropped -4 points to 1,413, while the Nasdaq dipped -2 points to 3,120. Oil edged up 30 cents to $107.33 a barrel, while gold inched down -70 cents to $1,684.90 an ounce.
In economic news, the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell -3.8% year over year, in line with estimates. Consumer confidence, meanwhile, fell from 71.6 in February to 70.2 in March, according to the Conference Board.
In other housing news, shares of homebuilder Lennar (LEN) climbed 4.7% after the company said its first-quarter new orders soared 33% to 3,022 homes. The company posted a fiscal first-quarter profit of $15 million, or 8 cents a share, down from $27.4 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of 4 cents a share. Twelve pros counted Lennar among their top holdings at the end of Q4 and nearly 240 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
In other earnings news, drugstore operator Walgreen (WAG) said its fiscal second-quarter profit fell nearly -8% to $683 million, or 78 cents per share, from $739 million, or 80 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased to $18.65 billion from $18.50 billion. Analysts had expected a profit of 77 cents per share on $18.57 billion in revenue. Shares of Walgreen rose 1.3%. Nearly 70 pros held Walgreen in their portfolios at the end of Q4 and almost 700 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of for-profit education provider Apollo Group (APOL) plunged -8.5% after the company said its fiscal second-quarter revenue fell -8% to $969.6 million as enrollment dipped. Apollo posted a profit of $63.9 million, or 51 cents per share, for the quarter compared with a loss of -$64 million, or -45 cents per share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Apollo earned 58 cents per share compared to 83 cents per share a year ago. Analysts had expected a profit of 38 cents on revenue of $932.9 million.
Shares of Chinese meat and food processor Zhongpin (HOGS) soared 21.8% after Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Xianfu Zhu announced he will acquire all of the company’s outstanding shares for $13.50 a piece. That’s well above Monday’s closing price of $9.21 and more than double the stock’s 52-week low of $6.60.
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