U.S. markets set new all time highs today, shrugging off word of Greece almost defaulting on a 750 million euro repayment, and looking for new data on housing to shed more light on the strength of the U.S. economy.
However, if traders are looking for the housing market to lead the way, today was not a great start. The Home Builders Confidence Index was down 2 points in May from April, instead of the slight gain the Street was expecting. The index fell from 56 to 54. Anything below 50 is negative.
Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 touched all time records, with the Dow up 0.1% and the S&P up 0.3%. The Nasdaq traded near all-time highs and was 0.6% higher at day’s end. Mergers and acquisitions, new affiliations and even a rekindling of a former M&A romance gone bad sent a couple of stocks north today, including Ann Inc (NYSE:ANN), Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. (NYSE:CBI) and Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR)
Here’s why they were among the day’s best stocks.
Altera Corporation (ALTR)
A report out today in the New York Post, quoting an unnamed source, said that merger talks between chipmaker Altera and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) are back on again, and that a deal for Intel to purchase Altera could happen by June. That report sent ALTR stock soaring by more than 5% by day’s end.
In April, ALTR turned down an offer from INTC at $54 a share. Traders seemed to be speculating that the price for winning the hand of Altera just got a bit more expensive. (And apparently, INTC is not carrying a chip on its shoulder over the previous disagreement.)
ALTR stock is up more than 40% since February.
Ann Inc (ANN)
Ann stock jumped nearly 20% higher today after Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) said it will buy Ann Inc for approximately $2.16 billion. Ascena will pay ANN stock holders $37.34 in cash and 0.68 shares of ASNA common stock for each ANN stock share they own.
ASNA, parent company of Lane Bryant and Dress Barn, will be acquiring ANN, which owns Ann Taylor and Loft retail stores. Both boards of directors have already approved the deal, and it is expected to close before the end of 2015.
This purchase merges one company (ASNA) known for its discount stores, with another company (ANN) that owns high-end stores, thereby capturing both ends of the women’s retail clothing industry.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Yih was very pleased, saying the acquisition represents a “good deal” for Ascena.
Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. (CBI)
CBI stock gained more than 6% today after it was reported that Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) said it would be working with CBI on a liquefied natural gas plant in Mozambique.
The plant could cost up to $15 billion and hold 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas when it’s completed.
Also adding to the CBI stock run up today was a big upgrade by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), from “sell” to “neutral.” Goldman downgraded CBI to “sell” near the end of November. CBI stock dropped about 40% after that, but has rebounded and is up nearly 68% since February.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.