The stock market finally gave patient investors their long-awaited reward today, as the Dow managed to climb to a new all-time record high for the first time in 2014. The average only eclipsed its previous high by four points, but investors remained enthusiastic about a strong set of earnings reports and continued confidence from the Federal Reserve to keep tapering its bond-buying activity. Even though the broader market's gains were modest, Energizer Holdings (NYSE:ENR), LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM), and Aspen Technology (NASDAQ:AZPN) posted sharp advances on Wednesday.
Energizer Holdings jumped 14% after the battery maker and personal-care products manufacturer announced its latest earnings results. Revenue dropped 3%, but earnings per share came in almost 10% higher than investors had expected to see. Energizer's guidance was solid, but perhaps the most intriguing news for shareholders was that the company intends to break its two main divisions into separately traded companies. Interestingly, although most people know Energizer best for its batteries, its personal-care division has actually shown much stronger growth in sales and net income in recent years. Energizer hopes the move will unlock shareholder value and allow each company to pursue its own strategic vision, and it expects a spinoff to occur by the end of next year.
LogMeIn climbed 16% after its own quarterly report showed solid growth. The provider of services to allow remote access for computers saw a 31% jump in sales from the year-ago quarter, and earnings per share came in better than expected by a penny. Efforts to rein in costs and improve pricing led to a gain of two full percentage points in adjusted operating margins to 20%, and LogMeIn raised its guidance on the revenue front by $10 million to $11 million, and earnings per share by $0.01 to $0.03, further exciting investors. LogMeIn's move to make its remote-access service premium-only also helped bring in customers.
Aspen Technology rose almost 14% after the business-services software developer reported a more than 30% rise in revenue in its most recent quarter. Adjusted earnings per share doubled, and Aspen Technology had strong success in boosting its sales from subscriptions and software. After its successful earnings report, Aspen Technology also got an upgrade from an investment-research firm, which reflected investor enthusiasm for the company's presence in the enterprise cloud software space. Given the difficulties some momentum stocks have had justifying their share-price moves, Aspen Technology's financial results were a nice departure, showing there might still be good plays in the space.
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