U.S. equities put together a mildly positive day Tuesday, carried by industrials (+0.7%) and technology stocks (+0.4%). The S&P 500 Index crawled forward by 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite pushed 0.3% higher.
The second-quarter earnings season plods on to its eventual end, but a few companies are making headlines on the back of their corporate reports, including AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV) and H & R Block Inc (NYSE:HRB). Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) officially has a new largest shakeholder.
Here’s what you should know heading into Wednesday’s trade:
AeroVironment, Inc. (AVAV)
AVAV shares are sprinting this morning on the back of the drone maker’s impressive fiscal first-quarter report.
AeroVironment’s revenues were a strong point, with the company growing the top line by 21% year-over-year to $43.8 million. That was more than enough to tackle analysts’ estimates for $42.4 million.
And while the company posted a loss $4.4 million (19 cents per share), that was a much narrower deficit than the year-ago period’s $11.6 million (51 cents per share). Moreover, it also was a much smaller loss than Wall Street’s pros were anticipating; analysts had AVAV pegged for a 34-cent shortfall.
That also was helped out by a big bounce in gross margins, from 18% last year to 27%.
“A nine percent increase in funded backlog enhances our visibility and positions us to deliver on our fiscal 2018 goals,” said CEO Wahid Nawabi.
For the full fiscal year, AeroVironment forecasts a profit of between 45 to 65 cents per share, the midpoint of which came just under analysts’ expectations of 56 cents per share. Revenue forecasts were a similar story, with AVAV’s projected range of $280 million to $300 million coming in just shy of Wall Street’s mark of $293.3 million at the midpoint.
Nonetheless, investors were encouraged by the report and are bidding AVAV stock some 10% higher in Wednesday’s morning trade.
Bank of America Corp (BAC)
We all knew it was coming, but it’s official now: BAC has a new top shareholder.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced at the end of June that it planned on converting its warrants in Bank of America to common stock. And he finally pulled the trigger on Tuesday, buying 700 million shares of BAC common stock — which closed Tuesday at $23.58 per share — at $7.14 per share. That translates into a 6.5% stake in the mega-bank.
And on paper, the Oracle padded his legend by scoring an $11.5 billion profit.
Buffett initially sunk $5 billion into Bank of America preferred shares yielding 6% in the wake of the financial crisis. While much of the rest of the market was recovering, BAC shares were cratering toward what eventually would become a floor at just $5 per share. The purchase, made via Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B), gave Buffett the right to convert his shares at a price of $7.14 each by 2021.
Berkshire now finds itself elbow-deep in what has become a roaring dividend growth stock, with BofA finally getting the first federal OK to bump its payouts higher in 2014, from a penny to 5 cents per share. BAC has raised its dividend twice since then, to 7.5 cents last year and a 60% bump to 12 cents this year that sparked Buffett’s interest.
BAC shares are up fractionally this morning.
H&R Block Inc (HRB)
HRB shares are slumping following a disappointing result in its fiscal first-quarter report.
The tax preparation services provider posted a loss of $131 million (63 cents per share), which was wider than the year-ago period’s loss of $124 million (56 cents). That figure also was a penny deeper than Wall Street’s expectations.
While the scale of the loss was a downside surprise, the large loss wasn’t — H&R Block typically suffers a deep loss in the quarter following tax season.
Revenues, however, did come ahead of the mark. HRB’s top line improved by 10% to $138 million, which topped forecasts of $129 million.
The company is in the midst of a leadership transition, with the company announcing Aug. 22 that Jeff Jones will take the helm, becoming CEO effective Oct. 9. Tom Gerke is serving as interim president and CEO.
HRB stock is off 5% this morning.