Stocks were mostly listless Tuesday, notching small losses a day before the Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting. Although traders have pared bets that the central bank will raise rates at this meeting, the S&P 500 declined 0.18% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 0.13%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.45%.
As is the case with most trading sessions right before a Fed meeting, Tuesday can be seen as a boring day, but boring wouldn’t be the appropriate way of describing today’s showings from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), HD Supply Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:HDS) and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co (NYSE:MJN).
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
Shares of Apple, a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, climbed 2% after Morgan Stanley said earlier today that iPhone shipments for 2016 are running ahead of estimates. That news helped AAPL easily outpace the Nasdaq Composite, the stock’s home index, on the day.
Morgan Stanley thinks 56.5 million iPhones will be sold in the first quarter of this year, well ahead of the 49 million the bank previously forecast, according to MarketWatch. Morgan Stanley rates AAPL “overweight” with a price target of $135, which implies significant upside from current levels.
The first-quarter outlook is bullish, particularly compared with AAPL’s iPhone sales during the holiday season. As InvestorPlace reported earlier today, “In the holiday quarter, for example, the number of iPhone units Apple sold increased literally 0% year-over-year, while iPad unit sales slumped 25%.”
HD Supply Holdings Inc (HDS)
Shares of HD Supply Holdings Inc soared 4.9% on heavy volume after the company reported fourth-quarter per-share earnings of 27 cents, easily topping the 24 cents analysts expected the company to earn. HDS, which is a distributor of industrial products, notched fourth-quarter revenue of $1.65 billion, slightly ahead of the $1.64 billion in sales analysts expected.
HDS forecast first-quarter earnings of 45 cents to 50 cents a share on revenue of $1.81 billion to $1.86 billion.
Mead Johnson Nutrition CO (MJN)
Takeover speculation once again lifted infant-formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition, which saw its shares climb 11% on volume that was more than quadruple the daily average. MJN, which has been mentioned as a takeover target in the past, is reportedly working with investment bankers after receiving overtures from Nestle SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS:NSRGY) and Danone SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS:DANOY), Bloomberg reports by way of the Betaville website.
MJN said it is does not comment on speculation in the Bloomberg article, while the piece also said Danone and Nestle declined to comment on the matter.
Today’s gain brought shares of MJN to a year-to-date gain of about 6%.
At the time of this writing, Todd Shriber did not own any of the aforementioned securities.