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Stocks Gain for Fourth Day; Barnes & Noble Rises; Kroger Climbs

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The Dow and S&P 500 posted a fourth day of gains propelled in part by Alcoa's (AA) upbeat earnings report. The frequent subject of debate on bellwethers posted earnings after yesterday's closing bell. The company made 7-cents a share when estimates had been for 6-cents. It also squeaked past consensus on revenue. Alcoa has been dealing with declining aluminum prices. But it says strong demand for lightweight metal used in cars and airplanes has offset that problem.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) climbed 5% as it tried to turn a page. Michael Huseby spent his first full day as CEO of the Nook Division and President of the overall company. He replaces William Lynch who resigned as CEO of Barnes & Noble yesterday. It was just two weeks ago that Lynch ceded defeat in the tablet market saying the company would stop manufacturing color versions of the Nook. Barnes & Noble has in fact been considering a separation of its Nook unit from its retail shops, so it should be noted that Huseby helped spin off two divisions when he worked at Cablevision.

Supermarket giant Kroger (KR) climbed nearly 3% on news that it's buying Harris Teeter (HTSI), a chain of 212 stores in the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Kroger is paying $2.5 billion dollars or $49.38 a share. Harris Teeter shares closed above $48 yesterday and rose about 1.5% today to close in on that $49.38 price. Shares of the company were already up 25% so far this year. Kroger stock is up 37% since the start of 2013.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) looked today like it was in need of a blood transfusion with shares tumbling 16% today. Intuitive makes the DaVinci surgical robot. It now expects quarterly revenue of $575 million, when expectations had previously been for $630 million. The announcement prompted at least four analyst downgrades. Intuitive is currently facing a number of negligence lawsuits stemming from use of DaVinci.

Another medical company, Natus (BABY), pared earlier losses but still closed down by 5%. Shares began their plunge after the company lowered its preliminary revenue outlook for the quarter with the new range set between $81 million and $82 million. The prior estimate had been for $86 million to $90 million. Natus cited weakness overseas, particularly in Europe. It says that domestic revenue has been in line with expectations.

Meanwhile, WD-40 (WDFC) had trouble holding on to the majority of its gains. The stock closed down nearly 1%, despite popping double-digits in early trading. The move came after the company easily beat estimates making 66-cents a share, a dime more than expectations. Revenue was also above consensus at $93 million. In addition, the company raised its outlook.

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