Antsy J.C. Penney Investors Push Stock Lower; Melco Crown Basks in Macau Success

Disney's animated characters translate into real gains as the Dow logs its first 100-point gain of 2014.

Jan 7, 2014 at 6:35PM

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.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) posted its first triple-digit gain of the year Tuesday, as a narrowing U.S. trade deficit lured bulls back to the market. November's $34.25 billion deficit marked about a $5 billion improvement from the month before, as exports rose and imports slipped. Investors are crossing their fingers for Friday's nonfarm payroll employment numbers; if December's unemployment rate reaches 6.9%, as some estimates call for, it will be the first sub-7% unemployment month since November 2008. The Dow, encouraged and hopeful, added 105 points, or 0.6%, to end at 16,530. 

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), along with 23 other blue-chip confederates, helped buoy the Dow today. Disney stock added 0.7%, and shareholders ought to be pleased: Disney's aptly titled animated musical fantasy film, Frozen, made its debut on-screen in November and promptly broke the record for largest opening Thanksgiving weekend, supplanting a record held by Toy Story 2 since the late '90s. Perhaps the unusually cold weather this season allows movie-goers to empathize with Frozen's characters; the movie dethroned The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last weekend to reclaim the top box office spot. Disney's $150 million production budget, with global box office sales approaching $650 million, sure looks like a well-placed investment. 

You can add certain stocks to your portfolio and, more or less, forget about them for a while. These stocks, usually household names with proven track records and distinct advantages over competitors, are the silk with which Warren Buffett has spun his fortune. Struggling retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) is not a silky stock. Investors, wisely, are watching the business like hawks and their growing skepticism about the company's holiday performance cost shares 5.5% today. J.C. Penney set a precedent for itself when it reported November same-store sales numbers on Dec. 2, as soon as accountants had finished their tallies. A week into 2014, the department store's silence is getting louder -- and more expensive for shareholders -- each day.

Lastly, Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (NASDAQ:MPEL) ended as one of the service sector's most substantial performers Tuesday, tacking on 4.2%. Gains like today's are merely cavalier for Melco Crown shareholders, who've seen the stock more than double in the last 12 months. Indeed, the entire gambling industry, as measured by the Dow Jones Gambling Index, surged nearly 60% in the last year alone. This is largely due to booming Asian markets -- in particular, Macau, which makes Vegas look like child's play -- where Melco Crown's early presence is proving to be quite lucrative for shareholders.

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John Divine has the following options: long January 2015 $10 calls on J.C. Penney Company. You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine.

The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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