Stocks seem unstoppable. Both the Dow and the S&P closed at new record highs today. The Nasdaq moved slightly higher. Markets were boosted by a better-than-expected report from the Labor Department on weekly jobless claims. There were just 346,00 new claims filed last week. That was a drop of 42,000 from the week before. A separate report from the Labor Department eased concerns about inflation. Import prices dipped 0.5% last month after rising 0.6% in February. For March, a rise in food prices was offset by a decline in fuel prices.
Burger King (BKW) sizzled today, rising 4% on the announcement that CEO Bernardo Hees is ending his reign. The fast food chain says Hees will take the top spot at H. J. Heinz after Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital take the ketchup-maker private. Chief Financial Officer Daniel Schwartz has been named to replace Hees on July 1st. Separately, Burger King says quarterly earnings will be 17-cents a share, slightly above estimates. The company did warn however that it expects same-store sales to decline 1.5%. It cited a tough global environment and leap day last year.
Microsoft (MSFT) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) both tanked on news that computer sales were down 14% percent in the first quarter compared to last year. The stocks were down 4.5% and 6.5%, respectively. A report from research firm IDC says that Windows 8 has failed to fuel interest in desktops and laptops. It also says the migration to tablets and smart phones is simply unstoppable. Microsoft was also downgraded today by two analysts. Surprisingly, Dell (DELL) was down only fractionally.
Rite Aid (RAD) shot up more than 18%, hitting a 52-week high on news that it has posted its second-straight quarterly profit and first annual gain in six years. The company says it is becoming more profitable thanks to an increase in generic drugs and overall prescriptions. Meanwhile, the company has been busy remodeling stores and has been putting new emphasis on its store loyalty program. Ride Aid says it earned 13-cents a share compared with a loss of 18-cents a share one year ago.
Shares of Zumiez (ZUMZ) popped 13% in reaction to the company's quarterly earnings report which was released after yesterday's closing bell. The action-sports clothing company says sales in March were much better than expectations. Revenue was up more than 2%, when consensus was for a drop of more than 7%. Zumiez says it has had success raising prices without scaring customers away.
Meanwhile, Apogee (APOG) fell 11% on the heels of its earnings report which was also released after yesterday's closing bell. But keep in mind shares have been up 150% in the past year. Apogee makes glass products. It missed estimates of 17-cents by 2-cents. The company's full-year guidance was also at the lower end of forecasts.
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