Despite the end of the world as we know it occurring in less than 24 hours (darn you, Mayans!), it doesn't appear to be affecting investor sentiment, as the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) rallied solidly late in the day. The impetus for the late-day boost appears to be that initial hurdles to get the Republican version of a fiscal cliff deal through the House of Representatives, known loosely as "Plan B," passed its first round of tests, and is set to go to debate and possible vote by later today. Before you get your hopes too high, however, remember that the President and the Democrat-led Senate will also get their say, even if it passes the House.
On the day, the S&P 500 ended up 7.88 points (0.55%), to finish at 1,443.69.
The biggest gain of the day (by far) was the NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX ) , owner of the New York Stock Exchange, which skyrocketed 34% after agreeing to be purchased by IntercontinentalExchange (NYSE: ICE ) for $8.2 billion. The move will help ICE become a competitive global derivatives company, gaining hold of Liffe, Europe's second-largest derivatives market in the deal, and will better allow it to compete against CME Group (NASDAQ: CME ) within the United States. Previous deals to purchase the NYSE by the Deutsche Bourse and Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ: NDAQ ) led to a stalemate, due to regulatory concerns. However, with little overlap in businesses, and ICE expected to spin off the Euronext portion of the business, the deal is widely expected to gain approval.
For each positive story, though, there are always a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.
Home furnishings retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY ) tumbled 6.5%, after providing fourth-quarter and fiscal 2012 guidance that fell below Wall Street's expectations. Bed, Bath & Beyond is now forecasting fourth-quarter and full-year EPS to range between $1.60-$1.67 and $4.48-$4.54, respectively, yet the current consensus sits at $1.75 and $4.62, respectively. With the potential for consumer spending to be constrained even further with higher taxes on the horizon, this is a name I'd rather just avoid.
Robotic surgical device manufacturer Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG ) had its second horrible day in a row, ending lower by 5.3%, following a report by short-selling specialist Citron Research that suggests Intuitive's premium valuation may not be merited. My personal opinion is that, as a leader in surgical devices and with little competition on the horizon, Intuitive has the pricing power to drive revenue higher by high double-digits for the next three-to-five years. As I said yesterday, I respectfully disagree with Citron's opinion of Intuitive Surgical.
Dissecting a lemon?
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