A transcript of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting lifted the stock market today, as central bankers all but confirmed that interest rates will remain low into the foreseeable future. While it's true that borrowing can't get much cheaper -- the fed funds target rate has held at 0%-0.25% since December 2008 -- some investors fear that interest rates might start rising sooner rather than later, stunting economic growth. The minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting shrugged off that possibility, prompting Wall Street to send the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) 181 points, or 1.1.%, higher; the index ended at 16,437, as Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) and 25 other components advanced.
Disney shares tacked on 1.1% Wednesday; fewer than one in four stocks fell today, meaning in a nutshell that unless there was breaking, horrific, company-specific news about stock X, stock X was destined to advance. But Disney deserves a bit more credit than stock X. Captain America: The Winter Soldier broke April box office records over the weekend, boasting $95 million in U.S. box-office sales. Fresh off the record launch, Disney's Marvel has already given the green light to a third installment in the Captain America series this week. There's nothing Disney investors love more than a wildly successful franchise, and Disney's got a veritable franchise factory in Marvel.
While Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF ) might not be able to compete with Disney's portfolio of franchises, its stock has some major advantages over Disney's. Lions Gate shares, even after surging 6.3% today, trade at just 15 times earnings, a sizable discount to Disney's 22 P/E. On top of that, Lions Gate's long-term growth prospects are arguably more exciting; the company is less than 3% Disney's size. In other words, a $1 billion box office hit like Frozen is great for Disney, but truly it's just a drop in the bucket. For the $3.8 billion Lions Gate, $1 billion in the box office would constitute a significant chunk of its annual revenue.
Remember stock X, the stock that passively advanced with the rest of the market on Wednesday merely because it was utterly average and unremarkable? Well, Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD ) is no stock X. Sears officially spun off one of its few successful divisions, Lands' End, which began trading on Monday. Both stocks have been dropping like rocks since then, and Sears shareholders are right to be peeved. The stock lost ground for a third straight day, shedding 2.8% on Wednesday, as Wall Street continued punishing the department store for ridding itself of the popular clothing brand.
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