U.S. markets were buoyed by oil’s 4% rise to finish above $50 a barrel after a small pullback on Wednesday, and stocks rallied higher right from the opening bell. Traders were looking ahead optimistically to tomorrow’s jobs report after the weekly jobless claims report came in at 278,000, well below the 290,000 the Street was predicting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 211 points, or 1.2%, while both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite moved ahead by 1%.
Basic materials, energy and healthcare were the leading sectors today, while W.R. Grace & Co (NYSE:GRA), Hospira Inc. (NYSE:HSP) and O’Reilly Automotive Inc (NASDAQ:ORLY) were three stocks that outperformed most of the other individual issues.
W.R. Grace & Co (GRA)
Chemical company W.R. Grace bounced up more than 12% today after announcing plans to split the company into two still-unnamed, independent publicly traded companies. One company will continue to produce specialty chemicals, while the other will focus on construction products.
The news even overshadowed GRA’s earnings release, with Grace coming in with earnings of $1.37 per share, nicely ahead of analysts’ estimates of $1.26 per share. The company’s revenue of $804.1 million missed the analysts’ mark of $848.1 million, but nobody seemed to care very much.
Hospira Inc. (HSP)
HSP stock jumped 35% to $87.59 a share after it was announced that Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) would acquire Hospira, a company that makes injectable drugs and infusion technologies, for $90 per share in cash. The total value of the deal is worth about $17 billion and as part of the deal, PFE will also assume HSP’s debt.
PFE said it expects the combining of companies to save about $800 million per year by 2018. Most analysts on Wall Street were also very upbeat about the acquisition.
HSP stock had previously climbed about 38% since last October, prior to the announcement. InvestorPlace’s Portfolio Grader identified HSP stock as a top pick just a few days ago.
PFE stock was also up nearly 3% on the news.
Oreilly Automotive Inc (ORLY)
ORLY stock blistered up 8% today, after trumping the Street’s fourth-quarter earnings estimates of $1.67 with $1.76 per share. EPS rose from $1.40 a year ago. Net income was up 19% from $152 million to $182 million year-over year. ORLY also raised its first quarter guidance, saying it would be $1.89 to $1.93 per share.
Wedbush Securities Inc. reiterated its outperform rating on ORLY stock this week, while setting a price target of $210 a share. ORLY stock closed over $208 today, so Wedbush may well have set their price target too low.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.