Rite Aid Rallies, Weight Watchers Posts Big Gains

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) , a day after closing at all-time highs, retreated on Thursday, as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict continued to escalate, and investors waited for Friday's jobs report for guidance. Private-sector payrolls are expected to expand by 215,000 in April, after advancing by just less than 200,000 in February and March. The Dow itself lost 21 points, or 0.1%, to end at 16,558, as 22 of its 30 members declined. 

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) stock was one of the many blue chip names to finish in the red on Thursday, losing 0.4%. The world's largest fast-food restaurant reported first-quarter results last Tuesday, and they painted a rather unflattering picture of the jubilant, burger-eating Ronald. In fact, U.S. sales actually fell by nearly 2% last quarter, underscoring an uncomfortable reality that investors must confront: McDonald's has reached full maturity in the U.S., and must now look abroad for growth. At the same time, Mickey D's needs to keep its domestic edge, and fend off fast-casual competition, which is becoming a larger and larger problem. 

Meanwhile, shares of Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD  ) are having no problem fending off rivals. Rite Aid stock rallied 5.5% today, hitting a 52-week high in intraday trading, as April same-store sales came in strong. The drugstore has seemingly been able to do no wrong on Wall Street in the last year, during which time shares have nearly tripled. The market actually somewhat saw April's blowout month coming a month ago, when the stock advanced after reporting a mere 0.7% increase in same-store revenue. Since Easter oddly occurred in late March last year, the bump was seen as a good omen for April's sales this year, and a 5% boost to same-store sales last month seems to validate that point. 

Source: company website

Finally, shares of Weight Watchers International (NYSE: WTW  ) weren't losing any ground on Thursday, surging 19.8%, even as profits cratered by more than 60%. Weight Watchers boosted its earnings per share estimates for the full-year from the $1.30 to $1.60 range to the $1.45 to $1.70 range. The company, which holds monthly meetings for paid members, is facing stiff competition from online and mobile-based rivals, but it's making inroads with its new mobile app and "Simple Start" program.

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