Friday didn't turn out to be quite as bad a day for the stock market as Thursday was, with major-market benchmarks ending the day down around 1% to 1.5% instead of the up to 3% losses that we saw yesterday. Nevertheless, continued weakness in some of the market's leading stocks during the past year put increasing pressure on the market as a whole, and that makes even the modest gains shareholders saw in Rambus (NASDAQ: RMBS ) , Allergan (NYSE: AGN ) , and JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ: JAKK ) all the more remarkable today.
Rambus rose 4% after the chipmaker got an upgrade from an analyst firm today. Optimism about Rambus's prospects hinges on its ability to start working more as a partner to its customers, building relationships, and finding new ways to supply leading-edge technology rather than being perceived as an overly litigious company out to enforce its patents at all cost. Yet, after the big run that Rambus and other memory chipmakers have seen recently, it's understandable that value investors aren't quite as comfortable with this analyst's ambitious price target. Still, if rising demand for mobile devices continues to drive chip sales, then Rambus could well capitalize and claim its share of a growing market.
Allergan also gained about 4%. A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that potential rival Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) had decided not to go forward with a potential anti-wrinkle product that could have been a major competitive threat to Allergan's Botox. Botox sales make up almost a third of Allergan's overall revenue, and having a competitor the size of Johnson & Johnson go up against the much-smaller Allergan could have set the stage for a cutthroat fight for market share. Although the entire episode highlights the need for Allergan to diversify its sales as much as possible, it also confirms somewhat that Allergan has a competitive moat for its key product lines.
Toymaker JAKKS Pacific jumped almost 10% after it, too, received an analyst upgrade Friday, with a boost of its price target from $8 per share to $10. One of the key drivers for profits at JAKKS could come from its deal to produce the ice gown from the animated hit movie Frozen. Stores have been sold out of the JAKKS version of the gown since January, and the company is working hard to make sure that it will have the supply to meet demand that has led to buying frenzies on online marketplaces. If JAKKS can keep bolstering its relationships to produce more in-demand merchandise, then it could go a long way toward boosting its growth for years to come.
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