U.S. markets reversed Friday’s huge loss and opened the week with a bang, after China’s central bank on Sunday lowered reserve requirement ratios for all their banks by 100 basis points. This was the second reduction in the last two months as China tries to fight off slowing growth in its economy.
Markets are also looking carefully at first-quarter earnings. About 75% of companies in the S&P 500 who have already reported were above analysts’ estimates, but only 45% had beaten estimates on revenue, down from 58% over the last year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2%, while the S&P 500 was better by 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 1.3%. Sectors were higher across the board today, with technology and telecommunications leading the pack.
Two of the companies who beat analysts’ expectations were Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) and Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS). Those two, along with CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX), are three of today’s best stocks.
Halliburton Company (HAL)
HAL stock was energized today by better-than-expected first-quarter earnings. Despite reduced drilling activity in North America because of weak crude oil prices, HAL reported earnings of 49 cents per share, besting the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 41 cents. Quarterly earnings a year ago were 73 cents per share, but Wall Street didn’t seem to mind this year’s lower figure because analysts were expecting the results to be much worse.
Revenue of $7.05 billion was 4% lower than a year ago, but was also ahead of analysts’ expectations of $6.96 billion. One of the reasons cited for the better-than-expected report was cost-cutting operations Halliburton executives put into place.
Shares were up 4.4% in the morning before pulling back to finish over 2% higher at the closing bell. More than 23 million shares changed hands.
CSX Corporation (CSX)
CSX stock was 4.8% higher today on strong volume of 19.5 million shares. Option Monster reported a bull run on CSX options late Friday, including more than 27,000 May $34 calls that were purchased between 41 cents and 90 cents and about 10,500 May $35 calls that were purchased between 18 cents and 46 cents.
This was the second time in the last three weeks that there was a bull run on CSX calls. The stock has languished so far in 2015, but somebody is obviously quite optimistic about CSX stock going forward.
Hasbro, Inc. (HAS)
HAS stock jumped more than 12.5% today after reporting first-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, a 50% increase from last year and far above analysts’ estimates of 9 cents a share.
Net revenue of $713.5 million was 5% above last year and was well ahead of the Street view of $668 million.
HAS also stated on a conference call that it will be making a movie for children about Play-Doh, one of Hasbro’s best-selling toys.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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