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Stocks Sink on Disappointing Data

Stocks moved significantly lower today on disappointing data. The Dow suffered a triple digit loss on the heels of the ADP payroll report. The monthly tally found just 135,000 new private sector jobs created in May when expectations had been for roughly 170,000 new jobs. The number from April was also revised down to 113,000 from 119,000. Separately, the Institute for Supply Management's services index moved up to 53.7 in May from 53.1 in April. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the services sector. But a related employment measure slipped to the lowest level since last July dipping to 50.1 from 52.0.

Homebuilder Hovnanian (HOV) bucked the larger market with shares rising nearly 1% on its quarterly earnings. Profits came to just a penny a share, down from 2-cents a year ago. But analysts had expected a loss of 5-cents. Revenue rose 24% to $423 million also beating estimates which were for $408 million. Hovnanian has been working to cut costs while ramping up projects as the housing market gains momentum. The company's shares are up more than 250% over the past year.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) fell nearly 2% on a trading loss involving debt related to Jefferson County, Alabama. JPM has agreed to forgive $842 million owed by the county as part of the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy. The company took the lead in arranging risky securities deals which pushed the county into bankruptcy 18 months ago. The bank previously lost $722 million on the deal in a settlement with the S.E.C.

Mattress Firm Holding Company (MFRM) rose more than 6% on its quarterly report. The chain beat expectations yesterday afternoon when it reported earnings of 38-cents a share excluding items. Estimates had been for 36-cents. Revenue was also higher than expected, and the company is improving its outlook. Mattress Firm says revenue from stores open at least a year was down more than 5%. But the company has been expanding rapidly through a series of acquisitions. Shares have been up more than 50% year-to-date.

Dollar General (DG) climbed over 3% as analysts suggested a buying opportunity. Shares fell 10% yesterday after the company released earnings and lowered the top end of its outlook range. But same-store sales for the quarter just ended climbed 2.6% and profits rose 13% from a year ago.

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