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Stocks finally notched a win today after three straight afternoon slumps, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) held on to the 16,000 mark for the first time, closing at 16,009 after a gain of 109 points, or 0.7%.
A strong initial unemployment claims report boosted stocks in the morning, as new filings totaled just 323,000 last week, below estimates of 333,000, and last week's tally at 344,000. The number helps confirm last month's strong jobs report as well as other recent economic data that has shown an improving economy. Later, investors cheered news that Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen had cleared the first hurdle in her confirmation, getting approval from the Senate Banking Committee, which paves the way for a full Senate vote for confirmation after Thanksgiving. Markets have soared this year on loose monetary policy, which Yellen has indicated would continue under her stewardship.
Stocks making news late today included Pandora Media (NYSE: P ) , whose shares were off 2% after hours following its earnings report. The Internet DJ said revenue jumped 50%, to $181.6 million, beating estimates of $175.6 million, and that the sales increase came on just a 17% gain in listening hours. This indicates that the company is successfully monetizing its audience, as CEO Brian McAndrews said. Improving mobile revenue, which now makes up nearly 60% of total sales, is also increasing operating leverage, he added. Subscription revenue was up 156% to $37.2 million, another bright spot for the company. Adjusted earnings per share was $0.06, in line with estimates, while EPS guidance for the next three months was $0.02-$0.04. Analysts had projected an EPS of $0.04. Pandora shares have soared this year as the company has taken significant steps toward profitability, continued to grow revenue at a brisk pace, and recently staved off a threat from Apple's iTunes Radio. Today's sell-off may simply be a reflection of the heavy share appreciation that's already occurred.
Earlier in the day, GameStop (NYSE: GME ) shares sold off 6.9% after investors were dismayed by the video game retailer's guidance. GameStop actually had a great quarter, with same-store sales increasing 20.5% on the strength of Grand Theft Auto V sales, and it beat estimates on both top and bottom lines. However, in the all-important holiday quarter, which is especially big this year because Sony and Microsoft have new consoles coming out, GameStop's forecast was light. The company sees EPS in the fourth quarter of $1.97-$2.14, below the analyst consensus at $2.15.
Finally, Target (NYSE: TGT ) shares ended the day down 3.5% adding its name to the list of big-box retailers expecting a lump of coal for Christmas. The all-and-sundry retailer said a significant loss on its expansion into Canada put a dent into earnings, as the company finished the quarter with a profit of just $0.54, below expectations of $0.63. Target began opening stores north of the border this year, and expects to have 124 operating by the end of the year, so perhaps an early loss is expected as the company builds out new locations and invests in marketing. In the U.S., comps improved slightly, by 0.9%, and the company is now eyeing a profit of just $1.26 for the fourth quarter, below estimates of $1.45. Despite the current loss from Canadian operations, the expansion should prove accretive to profits over the long term.
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