Look for a positive start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has gained 70 points in pre-market trading. Global markets traded higher overnight, led by a 1% bounce in Europe's STOXX index.
The U.S. economic calendar is light for today, but investors will get a fresh pair of readings on the job market early tomorrow morning. Initial claims for unemployment benefits are expected to rise slightly, to 320,000, while continuing claims hold steady. Both of those figures should come in close to a post-recession low when they are released at 8:30 a.m. EST.
Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE ) , Panera Bread (NASDAQ: PNRA ) , and Movado (NYSE: MOV ) .
Five Below shares were up 17% in pre-market trading after the retailer last night booked fourth-quarter results. The numbers weren't particularly pretty: comparable-store sales increased by just 0.3% as almost all of the company's 22% revenue growth came from opening new locations. Still, business trends are better than many investors feared: Five's management expects a 3% to 4% rise in comps for the spring quarter, in addition to a planned 62 new store openings.
Panera Bread shares were down 1.8% after catching a stock downgrade this morning tied to the company's investor conference last night. The good news out of that conference was that Panera affirmed its forecast for earnings growth this year. However, management also warned that results should be "choppy" as the company rolls out initiatives aimed at getting sales growth back on track. That spending, Panera said, could depress profit growth over the next two fiscal years. Still, short-term earnings swings have no bearing on the company's overall growth potential, which should only improve with these investments in the business.
Finally, Movado this morning announced strong earnings results for its fiscal fourth quarter. Adjusted profit rose by 12% to $0.46 a share, well ahead of the $0.30 that analysts expected. The high-end watch designer's sales came in at $140 million, 9% above the year-ago period. Movado is seeing strong demand for its products, which has helped sales improve for 16 consecutive quarters. It is also making more money on its average sale: gross profit margin ticked up to 53% of sales in the quarter. The company announced a 25% hike to its dividend, to $0.10 a share. Movado's stock was up 8.3% in pre-market trading.
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