Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Investors can expect a positive start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) will rise by 55 points at the opening bell, according to index futures. The Labor Department's just-released employment report showed that the economy added 203,000 jobs in November, ahead of the 185,000 economists expected. The unemployment rate also dove by 0.3 percentage points to 7%. Jobs data from the prior two months was revised higher as well, suggesting that the job market picked up steam this fall.
With that bigger picture in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.
If Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) investors are expecting a bidding war to break out over their company, they might want to tamper those hopes. A commissioner at the FCC told The Wall Street Journal last night that regulatory hurdles would likely keep a Comcast purchase from being approved. That leaves Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR ) , the fourth-largest cable operator, as still the most likely contender to snap up Time Warner. Charter is reportedly working on a deal to offer $90 a share in cash, along with stock in the combined company. Time Warner has seen its stock jump nearly 40% this year, partly on buyout rumors, despite having just booked a loss of 300,000 video subscribers in the third quarter.
Next, in what the CEO described as "clearly unsatisfactory" results, American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO ) this morning booked just $0.19 a share in third-quarter profit, well below the $0.41 it earned in the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales fell by 5% and inventory levels ticked higher as well. Looking ahead, American Eagle doesn't see a quick holiday rebound in the cards: comparable-store sales are expected to shrink again, and earnings per share should come in at $0.28 a share, compared to the $0.55 it earned a year before. The stock is down 7% in premarket trading.
Finally, Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW ) this morning said it expects to book $3.60 a share in profit for the full year. That's slightly below the $3.62 that analysts expected. The company also said it sees organic revenue ticking higher by between 2% and 3% next year, with 2014 profit coming in at about $4.40 per share, below the $4.46 that Wall Street had estimated. ITW is set to give investors more details in its analyst meeting later today. The stock is unchanged in premarket trading.
Who will win the content war?
The future of television begins now... with an all-out $2.2 trillion media war that pits cable companies like Cox, Comcast, and Time Warner against technology giants like Apple, Google, and Netflix. The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation reveals the secret Steve Jobs took to his grave, and explains why the only real winners are these three lesser-known power players that film your favorite shows. Click here to watch today!