It was yet another day of head-scratching for investors, who had to digest generally positive, but still quite mixed, earnings news, and the chapter 9 bankruptcy filing by Detroit.
It's not every day that you witness one of America's largest cities filing for bankruptcy protection. With potentially more than $20 billion in debt and liabilities, Detroit represents an iconic symbol of the automobile industry. With that in mind, how the government handles Detroit's bankruptcy filing will be closely monitored, as it could sway consumer sentiment higher or lower with regard to their feelings about the economy.
Very (and I do mean very) early on in this earnings season, most companies are topping Wall Street's expectations from an EPS perspective, which has helped push many indexes higher. That wasn't the case for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , though, which really held back any chance the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) had of galloping higher today. Microsoft shares tumbled to their worst one-day sell-off in 13 years on the heels of a $900 million writedown of unsold Surface tablets. This could signal evidence that Microsoft's push away from software and into hardware may be a bust. Being one of the largest companies in the world, it acted as a serious drag on the S&P 500.
But, despite Detroit's bankruptcy filing and Microsoft's flop, the S&P 500 still managed to do the unthinkable, and trudge higher by 2.72 points (0.16%) on the day, to close at 1,692.09, another all-time record high.
Leading the pack today is fresh-Mex casual restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG ) , which advanced 8.6% after reporting its second-quarter results. For the quarter, Chipotle saw sales spike 18% to $816.8 million, predominantly due to the addition of 44 new stores. Absent these stores, same-store growth came in at a more modest 5.5%. Profit per share increased to $2.82 from $2.56 in the previous year, exactly matching the Street's expectations. Expansion is certainly being met with open arms, but higher expenses, low single-digit organic growth through the first six months of the year, and a 160-basis point operating margin decrease in the latest quarter, are more than enough reasons to avoid Chipotle here.
Home appliance maker Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR ) also sent short-sellers through the spin cycle after it gained 8% following its strong second-quarter results, and boosting its full-year profit outlook. For the quarter, revenue jumped 5.3%, to $4.75 billion, as profit soared 53%, to $2.37 per share. Comparatively, the Street expected just $2.32 in EPS on $4.67 billion in sales. What really has investors excited is its EPS boost for the remainder of the year to a range of $9.50-$10 in EPS from its prior EPS forecast of $9.25-$9.75. A rebounding housing market has certainly helped Whirlpool, but I remain a bit concerned about the affect rising U.S. lending rates could have on its domestic business, and would suggest investors remain cautious.
Finally -- and to keep with today's theme of earnings-driven moves -- oil services contractor Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB ) added 5.4% after topping the Street in the second quarter. Overall, revenue rose 8%, to $11.18 billion, with net income soaring 50%, to $2.1 billion, or $1.57 per share. Excluding one-time gains, Schlumberger topped EPS estimates by $0.05 and slid by revenue projections by $60 million. Schlumberger can thank robust drilling activity overseas in China and Australia, as well as domestically in the Gulf of Mexico, for its market-beating results. To add the icing on the cake for shareholders, Schlumberger also announced a new $10-billion share repurchase program. Investors would be smart to keep their eyes on Schlumberger moving forward.
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