It was an ugly day on Wall Street for bulls, with the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) shedding more than 2% despite market-topping economic data.
On the data front, weekly initial jobless claims fell 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 300,000, which was also their lowest level in seven years. This is great news for the jobs market as it could signify that fewer people are having trouble finding work, which may lead to ongoing improvement in the U.S. economy.
Also in the positive column was the narrower $36.9 billion Treasury deficit in March compared to the $106.5 billion deficit reported in February. The Obama administration and Congress are trying to work together to reduce the federal budget, and months like we had in March show that the deficit is starting to be addressed.
This data, however, was no match for profit takers and short-sellers, who pummeled the high-flying biotechnology and technology sectors once again, and piled onto a select group of companies reporting earnings that didn't meet expectations.
By day's end, the S&P 500 had tumbled 39.10 points (-2.09%) to close at 1,833.08. This marks the lowest close for the S&P 500 in nearly two months. Despite the tumble, three companies still managed to buck the trend in a big way.
Leading the charge was Information-technology and IT-outsourcing solutions provider iGATE (NASDAQ:IGTE), which soared 16.4% after the company announced impressive growth in the first quarter. Per its press release this morning, iGATE delivered a 10% increase in revenue, to $302.2 million, as adjusted EBITDA increased 15% due to the addition of nine new customers. Net income of $31.6 million, however, was down from the $34.8 million reported in the year-ago quarter. Still, its EPS of $0.45 topped Wall Street's expectations by $0.04, while revenue beat by $1.3 million. With a revenue growth rate in the high single digits and a forward P/E of 15, it's conceivable that shares could still have room to run higher.
Payday-loan and check-cashing provider Cash America International (NYSE:CSH) gained 12.3% on the day after updating its first-quarter earnings guidance and announcing that it was reviewing strategic alternatives for its online business, Enova International, which could involve a tax-free spin-off of the company. Anytime you say the word "spin-off," investors get excited these days, as spin-offs have a way of unlocking shareholder value by making a company's revenue and profit potential appear more transparent. In addition, Cash America upped its EPS forecast to $1.50-$1.55 in the first quarter as compared to the $1.25 it had initially projected. The company attributed smaller loan losses and improved operating efficiencies as the reason for the beat. Given its numerous catalysts and single-digit P/E, I could potentially see this stock heading even higher.
Lastly, drugstore chain Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) tacked on 8.4% after reporting results from the fourth quarter. In total, Rite Aid earned $0.06 per share for the quarter on revenue of $6.6 billion, topping Wall Street EPS estimates by $0.02, and surpassing sales expectations by $90 million. As has been the case in recent quarters, competition in front-end sales has been heating up between it and its rivals causing front-end same-store sales to slump 0.7% in the first quarter. What's notable, though, is that pharmacy same-store sales vaulted higher by 3.5% despite a 1.8% decrease in prescriptions being filled (mostly due to reduced flu shots administered). Looking ahead, Rite Aid anticipates full-year EPS of $0.31-$0.42 on $26 billion-$26.5 billion in revenue, which is in-line to slightly ahead of the $0.36 in EPS on $25.8 billion in sales the Street was expecting. I have to admit that I've been wrong about the comeback in Rite Aid thus far, but I'm still not convinced that it offers better upside potential than any of its competitors.
iGATE, Cash America, and Rite Aid may have bucked the trend higher today, but they'll likely have a hard time keeping pace with this top stock in 2014
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Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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