Can anything stop the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) ? At the moment, the answer is no, as the index trudged higher for an eighth consecutive day -- its longest streak in more than eight years. Earnings reports continue to be the big driver of the index with most companies surprising investors with upside earnings beats.
Within the Dow Jones Industrial Average (and as a component of the S&P 500), consumer products provider Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) provided the biggest spark to the overall market by reporting more than double its net income to $4.06 billion from $1.69 billion last year. P&G's cost-cutting measures, as well as revamping of its product lines and price points, has translated into quick results -- so much so that P&G boosted its full-year forecast in 2013. Shares finished the day higher by 4%, which, if you follow P&G like I do, is a monster move from a relatively low-beta stock.
On the heels of these strong earnings reports, the S&P 500 finished the day higher by 8.14 points (0.54%) to close at 1,502.96.
There were plenty of big movers within the S&P 500 today, with 11 companies advancing better than 4%. Here's a look at three of today's best stocks.
DVD and online streaming content provider Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) crushed short-sellers' hopes and dreams for a second straight day, advancing another $22.70, or 15.5%. Netflix shares are now up a whopping 73% in just the past three trading sessions, and its stellar fourth quarter reported adding 3.8 million subscribers and earning $0.13 vs. expectations of a $0.13 loss. Adding to today's enthusiasm was activist investor Carl Icahn, who holds a 10% stake in Netflix and predicted further gains for the stock. I may suddenly find myself in the minority here, but the list of reasons to avoid Netflix looks a lot longer than the list of reasons to buy at these levels.
Semiconductor equipment manufacturers KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ: KLAC ) and Lam Research both soared following the release of their earnings results, although KLA-Tencor took the crown with an 8.4% move to the upside compared to Lam's "paltry" 5.9% move higher. For the second quarter, KLA reported revenue of $673 million and a profit if $0.63, handily trouncing the $634 million in sales and $0.57 in EPS Wall Street had been expecting. Furthermore, KLA-Tencor received a nice boost from Samsung, one of its biggest customers, which noted plans to keep its capital expenditures at the same level as 2012. Even after today's pops, most of the semiconductor equipment suppliers still look relatively cheap.
Finally, coffee giant Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX ) advanced 4.1% after reporting yet another solid quarter. Same-store sales for the quarter rose by 7% domestically and 6% overall, with traffic growth adding 4% and price hikes contributing 2% to those totals. All the basics that you'd expect from a company with a cult-like following were there, with Verismo brewers flying out the door (150,000 units sold); an 86% boost in My Starbucks Reward memberships, which adds to brand image and increases customer loyalty; and double-digit same-store sales growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Speaking as both an investor and a coffee addict, Starbucks is one of the very few names I'd still suggest adding to your portfolio in the restaurant sector because it simply understands what the consumer wants.
Is this rally in Netflix sustainable?
The precipitous drop in Netflix shares since the summer of 2011 has caused many shareholders to lose hope. While the company's first-mover status is often viewed as a competitive advantage, the opportunities in streaming media have brought some new, deep-pocketed rivals looking for their piece of a growing pie. Can Netflix fend off this burgeoning competition, and will its international growth aspirations really pay off? These are must-know issues for investors, which is why we've released a brand-new premium report on Netflix. Inside, you'll learn about the key opportunities and risks facing the company, as well as reasons to buy or sell the stock. We're also offering a full year of updates as key news hits, so make sure to click here and claim a copy today.