Stocks pulled sharply higher in afternoon trading after the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its latest policy meeting, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) up 155 points as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. Dow component Disney (NYSE: DIS ) rose nearly 1% to maintain its recent run, while former index member Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) has built a great showing following its optimistic earnings report after the closing bell yesterday. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Disney's unstoppable climb
There's seemingly no stopping this entertainment giant's stock. Shares of the House of Mouse are up more than 4% year to date, outrunning the market's up-and-down 2014 and keeping up a 34% gain over the past year. Disney's had no shortage of success at the box office, and investors can expect another run this month after the company's latest film from its Marvel subsidiary, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, hauled in more than $96 million in its opening weekend, the largest April film launch ever. Perhaps most surprisingly, Winter Soldier dominated across the Pacific in China, drawing more than $39 million in the world's second-largest economy.
Disney's success leans heavily on revenue from its largest businesses, particularly its media networks division where sales have soared thanks to rising advertising rates and affiliate fees at channels such as ESPN. But the success of the company's recent films, from Marvel superheroes to animated features, lends credence to the belief that Disney's stock isn't headed for a reversal of fortune anytime soon. Disney's forward price-to-earnings ratio of 17.4 doesn't look too pricey to capitalize on this entertainment stock's success despite its recent run-up.
Outside the Dow, Alcoa has gained more than 3% on long-awaited good news for investors who have weathered depressed prices and oversupply in the aluminum industry for years. Alcoa projected that demand finally will overtake supply in 2014, the ultimate result of production and facility cuts from Alcoa and other major producers as output from China has skyrocketed in the recent past and flooded the market. The problem hit earnings hard around the industry and contributed to the mere 40% gain in Alcoa's stock over the past five years.
A turnaround would further improve upon what's been a fantastic year so far for Alcoa, as shares of the company are up more than 18% year to date. The company's first-quarter numbers themselves didn't quite impress, as sales declined by 6% year over year despite beating analyst expectations with $5.5 billion in quarterly revenue. Alcoa's earnings also crumbled to a $0.16 per-share loss in the first quarter from a $0.13 per-share gain a year ago. Still, while the first quarter didn't offer much strength, if Alcoa's projections about aluminum supply finally come true, it's a bright spot of hope for investors who have shouldered years of struggle from this industry. Keep an eye on the long term with this stock.
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