Why Sprint, Level 3 Communications, and Tableau Software Soared Today

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.

Investors endured an up-and-down session in the stock market Wednesday, as stocks opened to a triple-digit decline before making back nearly all of their lost ground by the close. Despite nervousness about Friday's coming report on employment, company-specific issues took the spotlight with most of today's big movers, and Sprint (NYSE: S  ) , Level 3 Communications (NYSE: LVLT  ) , and Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA  ) all posted sharp gains today on promising news.

Sprint (S) jumped 8% on reports that the company is trying to get financing for a bid to buy rival T-Mobile US (NYSE: TMUS  ) . Many have speculated that the No. 3 and 4 carriers in the U.S. wireless market would seek to combine, but the big question is whether regulators would allow the combination to take place. Interestingly, T-Mobile shares only rose by 5%, suggesting uncertainty about the structure of an eventual merger and whether investors would get an adequate premium to the stock's current price.

Level 3 Communications (LVLT) rose 10% after posting its fourth-quarter earnings results this morning. Level 3 reversed a year-ago loss, and despite a 1% drop in revenue, the network and telecom-services company managed to cut expenses and take advantage of a one-time tax benefit to boost its profits. Level 3 still has work to do to reach consistent profitability, but its full-year loss in 2013 was about 75% smaller than in the previous year.

Tableau Software (DATA) soared 13% on its own positive earnings results from last night. With sales for the fourth quarter nearly doubling and a solid profit that defied investors' expectations of breakeven results, the data-analysis software company is clearly riding the wave of interest in maximizing the value of data for enterprise use. A positive outlook for 2014 also led analysts to express their optimism for the stock as well, and the results point to the persistence of the cloud-computing and data-analytics trends in technology.

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