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Stocks Notch Gains on President’s Remarks Regarding Syria

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks made healthy gains today as traders reacted to President Obama's latest remarks on the situation in Syria. Speaking from Sweden, the President urged Congress to approve his plan for a military strike saying the "international community's credibility is on the line."

On the economic front the trade deficit was slightly larger than expected in July. The Commerce Department says the deficit widened to $39.15-billion when estimates had been for $39-billion. Last month's deficit was revised upwards to $34.5-billion from $34.2-billion. Still, that was the lowest level since the fall of 2009.

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Retailer Francesca's Holdings (FRAN) lost a quarter of its value today on an earnings miss and saw its market value fall below $1-billion. The chain of women's boutiques made 33-cents a share when expectations were for 35-cents. Revenue missed by nearly $5-million at $89.6-million. Francesca's is the fastest growing retail chain, even besting Lululemon. It expects sales to nearly double in the next three years. Nevertheless, shares were already down 10% year-to date ahead of today's session. They've now lost more than 40% over the last year.

Dollar General (DG) rose almost 5% today on its quarterly earnings. The company posted adjusted profits of 77-cents a share, 3-cents better than expectations. Revenue was $4.39-billion, also higher than expectations. The chain says same store sales were up 5.1% and overall sales jumped more than 11%. Dollar General says it has been attracting more customers with brand-name products. It is also expanding grocery offerings.

J.C. Penney (JCP) surged more than 6% on news that two hedge funds have been buying shares. Glenview Capital Management has just taken a 9.1% stake in the company and Kyle Bass's Hayman Capital has accumulated more than 5% of Penney's shares. Clearly they're hoping to avoid the same fate as Pershing Square's Bill Ackman. He lost $500-million when selling his 18% stake in the company last month. Shares of the beleaguered retailer were down 39% year-to-date ahead of today's session. The company has shrunk to a market cap under $3-billion.

Guidewire Software (GWRE) traded more than 7% lower today on earnings which came out yesterday. The company, which makes software for insurance providers, posted adjusted profits of 25-cents a share when estimates were for 14-cents. Revenue was also higher than expected at $96.9-million versus expectations of $93.1-million. However, the company issued a weak outlook for the full year. Afterwards, Citigroup cut its rating on the company.

LinkedIn (LNKD) lost 3% today on news the company plans to sell $1-billion worth of stock in a follow-on offering. According to an SEC filing, the company will use the cash for a variety of things including product development and investments in international expansion. Shares of LinkedIn have more than quintupled since they first went to market at $45 a share in May, 2011. They're up 118% since the start of this year, making the company worth $28-billion.

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