Although traders were still cautious by the opening, Wall Street moved higher this morning on rumors of a possible six-month extension for the debt talks going on in Greece. The market wavered a bit after the Germany’s finance minister refused to agree to a new Greek debt program, but then recovered to finish strongly.
Also weighing on the markets were wholesale inventories, which were up 0.1% but failed to meet analysts’ expectations of 0.2% growth; and a 0.4% decline in sales, suggesting that fourth-quarter GDP could be revised lower.
That was interesting, considering that a couple of Federal Reserve members were also talking about raising interest rates when the Federal Open Market Committee meets in June.
At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.8%, while the broader S&P 500 was 1.1% higher and the Nasdaq Composite was the strongest of the three, up 1.3%.
Technology, utilities, healthcare and cyclical consumer goods were the strongest sectors, while oil gave up some of its recent gains. The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO), General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE:HOT) are three large cap stocks that stood out today.
The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO)
KO stock was a knockout today, up almost 4% in the morning before falling back an increase of 2.8% by the closing bell. The No. 1 beverage manufacturer posted earnings of 44 cents per share, topping market expectations by 2 cents, although earnings fell 4.3% from a year ago.
Revenue, which also fell 1.5% to $10.9 billion, just beat analysts’ expectations.
Coca Cola also said that 2015 will have a “slight positive on net revenue growth,” although foreign currency exchange rates could reduce its results.
KO stock has been somewhat of a laggard in recent months, range-bound between $40 and $45. The stock closed today at $42.20.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)
GM stock rose more than 4% on 26.5 million shares on news that shareholder activist Harry Wilson, who has the backing of several investment firms that own 2.1% of GM’s stock, nominated himself for the board of directors. Wilson told the company that he wants GM to commit to completing an $8 billion share buyback.
GM stock topped $40 a share in December 2013, but has not been able to get back to that level since. However, GM stock has doubled over the last 2 1/2 years, and recently announced a 20% increase in its quarterly dividend to 36 cents per share.
So one wonders why the shareholders would be putting the big squeeze on the company at this point.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT)
HOT was a hot stock today, after reporting 97 cents per share, up 8% year over year and easily beating the Zacks consensus estimate of 77 cents.
Revenue decreased 1% to $1.5 billion, narrowly mising the estimate, but the Street gave that a pass. Instead, the Street was also enthused that HOT has decided to spin off its timeshare business into a new company that will be publicly traded.
As a result, HOT stock was up more than 6% on 8.1 million shares.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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