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Dow, S&P 500 Close Modestly Higher, Log New Records

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks moved modestly higher today with the Dow and S&P posting new closing highs. The gains came a day after the Dow closed above 15,000 for the first time ever. Investors didn't seem dissuaded by some discouraging earnings reports released before the opening bell. However, those reports moved their respective companies sharply lower.

AOL (AOL) fell nearly 9% on the company's quarterly earnings. Advertising revenue grew 9%, helped in large part by company-owned sites like the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget. But traders seemed concerned that most profits are still coming from dial-up service which is shrinking. All told, AOL missed on earnings per share posting 32-cents when estimates were for 35-cents.

Wendy's (WEN) may need to beef up its balance sheet. Shares slid over 5% following the release of the company's quarterly earnings. The burger chain met profit estimates of 3-cents a share when items were excluded. But revenues missed by about $10 million dollars coming in at $603.7 million. The company has been pursuing dual paths, promoting both its menu and premium items. It is also in the middle of a restaurant redesign program.

Traders were eager today to put Whole Foods Market (WFM) in their basket with shares climbing 10%. The company says it bagged earnings of 76-cents a share during the last quarter, beating estimates by 3-cents. Revenues were in line, topping $3 billion. The king of the upscale supermarkets is reaffirming a full-year forecast of at least 10% sales growth, and also announced a stock split. Perhaps the company has been ripe for the picking; prior to the spike we're seeing now, the stock had gained less than 1% since the start of the year.

Zillow (Z) wasn't on very solid ground today shedding 10%. The stock dropped after the company reported earnings yesterday afternoon. Zillow missed estimates coming in with a loss of 11-cents a share when the consensus was for just 3-cents. The company did however beat on revenue which was up 71% from a year ago. Zillow says opportunity is knocking with the improving housing market. Realtor subscriptions and mortgage advertising are already up. Zillow took quite a tumble in mid-November, but shares have more than doubled year-to-date.

JC Penney (JCP) shares popped over 7% after the company pre-released some first-quarter sales figures ahead of its official report due next week. JCP says sales were down almost 17% in the quarter that just ended last Saturday. The drop is being blamed on ousted CEO Ron Johnson who tried to upend Penney's pricing policy. But business is also down because of construction at hundreds of stores.