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Market Closes Modestly Higher on Bernanke Remarks; More Banks Beat Estimates

Stocks moved modestly higher after Fed chief Ben Bernanke hinted that the central bank is not yet ready to taper its bond buying program and could even step up quantitative easing if there's a downturn in key economic data. One such downturn was revealed this morning. The Commerce Department said housing starts plummeted 9.9% in June when expectations had been for a rise of nearly 5%. The number was up 6.8% percent in May after taking a 15% plunge in April so we're seeing a lot of volatility here.

Bank of America (BAC) climbed nearly 3% on its quarterly earnings. The bank beat estimates posting profits of 32-cents a share when expectations were for 25-cents. Revenue was also about $100 million higher than predicted at $22.9 billion. The bank says it was helped by cost-cutting as well as strength in investment banking. Earnings for the quarter were up 70% from a year ago.

Bank of New York Mellon (BK) rose nearly 2% on its earnings which were also released this morning. BNY beat estimates with 62-cents a share excluding items. Estimates had been for 57-cents. Revenue was also $90 million more than expectations at $3.79 billion. The company says it benefited from an increase in volume and volatility in foreign exchange markets. Company shares are up 45% over the past year.

Mattel (MAT) fell 7% on its quarterly earnings. The toy maker says it made 21-cents a share for the quarter, far below expectations of 32-cents. Revenue was also a miss at $1.17 billion when consensus had been for $1.224 billion. Mattel says much of the problem was an impairment charge. But it looks like Barbie may also be getting old. Sales of the iconic figure slid for the fourth straight quarter. There were also declines in Fisher Price and Hot Wheels merchandise. American Girl and Monster High were bright spots. Prior to today, shares of Mattel have been up 26% year-to-date.

Tesla (TSLA) managed to pull off a partial turnaround today with the stock climbing 10%. Yesterday shares fell 14%, tanking after a Goldman Sachs analyst warned the stock has become overvalued. That put the price at $109, still well above Goldman's new price target of $84. The drop was Tesla's biggest one-day percentage loss since January of last year.

Our parent company Yahoo! (YHOO) soared over 10% to the highest level since May 2008 when Microsoft was in talks to acquire the company. The climb came despite a mixed earnings report after yesterday's closing bell. Excluding items, the company beat on earnings, posting 35-cents a share when estimates had been for 30-cents. That was a 46% rise from a year ago. However, revenue missed slightly, with sales of $1.07 billion. Part of the problem there: advertisers are now paying 12% less for space and the company has failed to increase its market share. Even prior to today's gains, shares of Yahoo were up 72% over the past year.

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