Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) traded above 16,000 today, investors didn't have the confidence to keep the blue-chip index above that threshold for the whole trading session. The index closed the day up 14 points, or 0.09%, to sit at 15,976. The same goes for the S&P 500, which briefly traded above the 1,800 mark but ended down 0.37% at 1,791.
A number of pundits blamed the moves lower on Carl Icahn. Speaking at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit today, the billionaire activist investor said he can envision a big drop in the markets down the road, as he sees current earnings as being fueled by low borrowing costs, instead of by strong management.
I know a lot of investors closely follow Icahn's words and trades, but he's just one person and he's been wrong before. If you're basing your entire investing thesis on what Carl Icahn has to say, you may have a few more problems to contend with than a future market pullback.
A few winners and losers
Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN ) reported earnings before the market opened today, and shares rose 2.26% on the news. Sales hit $8.9 billion, resulting in earnings per share of $0.70, a 23% increase over the same time last year. EPS also beat analyst expectations by a penny. The company experienced year-over-year growth in four of its major operating segments: chicks sales, up 6.8%; beef, up 9.1%; pork, up 6.3%; and prepared foods, up 9.4%. Management reaffirmed fiscal 2014 revenue of $36 billion after the company finished 2013 at $34.4 billion. Investors should be happy with these results and can probably expect to continue riding this market- beating stock higher in the coming months.
J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) once again has made the list of big movers, as shares fell 3.54% today. Investors appear to be growing nervous ahead of the Nov. 20 earnings report, in which earnings per share are expected to come in at negative-$1.72 on revenue of $2.80 billion. That would be 4.4% decline on the revenue side and an 86% collapse on earnings. At this point, no one is actually investing in J.C. Penney: Anyone buying shares now is simply gambling. Until we see some evidence that the company is turning around -- two solid years of positive earnings reports, at a very minimum, would be a good start -- you would be wise to stay as far away from this company as you can.
Another big loser today was slot-machine maker International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT ) , which lost 5.61%. There was very little company-specific news today, but investors may be worried about trends in the industry. The University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research recently noted that the number of slots in Las Vegas fell by 38,000 from 2000 to 2012. High rollers -- the kind of people casinos actually make money on -- tend to prefer table games, so slots are being removed to make room for more profitable tables. And the slots that remain can generally accept all types of coins, whereas in the past, they were limited to accepting one kind of coin -- penny slots, nickel slots, and so on. Casinos thus need fewer of the machines. Clearly, that's all bad news for a company that makes slots.
A stock to watch in 2014
The market stormed out to huge gains across 2013, leaving investors on the sidelines burned. However, opportunistic investors can still find huge winners. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has just hand-picked one such opportunity in our new report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." To find out which stock it is and read our in-depth report, simply click here. It's free!