Forget Russia! Dow Rallies 181 Points on Strong U.S. Data

Wall Street finally shifted its focus from Russian President Vladimir Putin's twisted game of geopolitical chess on Monday, as surprising growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector became hard to ignore. The Federal Reserve's February industrial production numbers show rapid growth in the auto industry especially, as production rose nearly 5% from January. After falling for five straight days last week as Putin's antics regarding Ukraine sparked global outrage, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) jumped 181 points, or 1.1%, to end at 16,247. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) stock helped to lead the charge, tacking on 1.7%.

Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF  ) , although in the same industry as Disney, shed 5.1% today. But Lions Gate, let's be honest -- America knows Walt Disney. America grew up with Walt Disney. Walt Disney was a friend of ours. And Lions Gate, you're no Walt Disney. I'm not writing off Lions Gate, which is primarily known as the production company behind the money-printing Hunger Games franchise as well as the famed Mad Men and Orange is the New Black TV series. The company's finances are even solid enough to affirm its next quarterly dividend payment of $0.05 per share. Things are going well.

But Disney is an absolute wrecking ball, a brute force of nature in capitalism on planet earth. Its $142 billion market cap makes it 34 times larger than Lions Gate, which means that Mickey Mouse himself could probably acquire the smaller Disney rival without a loan or a credit check. That said, it's easy to get complacent when you're on top of the world like Disney is, and with a mediocre presence in the box office right now -- highlighted by Need for Speed and Peabody and Sherman -- Star Wars: Episode VII, expected in time for Christmas next year, can't come soon enough.

Lastly, shares of Hertz Global Holdings (NYSE: HTZ  ) , primarily known to consumers for its rental car service, surged 4.8% today as investors cheered a reported spinoff. The Financial Times reported after markets closed on Friday that Hertz is planning to unwind its rental equipment business at a valuation approximating $4.5 billion. Spinoffs are commonly considered to unlock value for both the spinee and the spinner, as investors can more easily discern growth patterns in each business and management can maintain a narrower focus on pursuing core competencies. We'll get a better idea of how Hertz's equipment rental business is progressing tomorrow morning, when Hertz reports earnings.

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  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:23 PM, ventupete wrote:

    Peabody and Sherman is Dreamworks Animation NOT Disney, Also, Need For Speed is produced by Dreamworks and only distributed by Disney, so very low exposure. There are a lot of big Disney movies before Star Wars Episode VII, including several Marvel (Avengers 2, etc.) and Pixar releases and the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. So you need to get your facts straight on the movie part.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 7:35 PM, Mary953 wrote:

    Is this a "what have you done for me lately" approach with regard to Disney? As to movies, Frozen is an international money maker. And my grandchild is dancing around, practically levitating, in fact, over her first trip to Disney World...wish I was going with her. It is still my "happiest place on Earth." And the stock (bought at 45) is not too shabby either.

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