Once again, the stock market flirted with all-time record highs Friday morning, only to give way to a sizable decline by the close. Investors are increasingly nervous about the heights to which stocks have risen, especially in momentum-driven areas of the stock market. Yet, even as hot sectors like biotech and social media got hammered hard today, Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU ) , CEMEX (NYSE: CX ) , and Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN ) were among the rare stocks that were able to escape the carnage.
Coal producer Peabody Energy gained 3% as analysts at Cowen upgraded the stock today. Even though coal prices have been in the basement for an extended period of time, Peabody has some defenses against low prices that its peers don't have. With the potential for lower costs from its Australian coal assets, Peabody isn't reliant on U.S. coal resources like most of its domestic peer group, giving Peabody a competitive advantage. Although Cowen's price-target increase of just $1 per share to $20 isn't all that ambitious, it was enough to drive interest in the entire coal group today, with some of its weaker coal counterparts posting even larger percentage gains.
CEMEX gained 5% after a Bloomberg report said that the two biggest cement companies in the world are looking at merger prospects. As a result, stocks throughout the sector rose, including both cement and aggregates producers in the U.S., as well as Mexico's cement giant. Unlike coal, cement and aggregates have been seen as potential growth industries, as rising home prices and a jump in commercial construction activity have pointed to stronger demand for building materials. Even if consolidation doesn't take place in the industry as quickly as some speculators hope, CEMEX looks like a reasonable bet to take advantage of greater demand for cement in the Americas.
Aruba Networks jumped 4% after analysts at Northland Capital gave an outperform rating to the networking stock. The analysts' report noted that Aruba has done a good job of being more efficient with its business, growing margins, and coming out with new software products that provide solid prospects for rising revenue. Specifically, Aruba's ClearPass product manages security access to sensitive network information while still allowing mobile access to authorized users, while its ClientMatch ensures that mobile devices and wireless local-area networks work as efficiently as possible while maximizing speed. Given the demand for more efficient communication with mobile devices on networks, Aruba has plenty of growth potential for the future.
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