Six out of every 10 stocks finished lower on Thursday, as the European Central Bank indicated it would try to jump-start inflation in the eurozone at its June policy meeting. If money gets cheaper in Europe, it would make American exports more expensive -- an unwelcome obstacle to domestic growth at a time when it's hard to come by. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) shares helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) shrug off those concerns, leading the blue chip index higher. The Dow tacked on 32 points today, or 0.2%, to end at 16,550.
Disney's stock ought to be heading higher today, because yesterday's muted response to an incredible earnings report was a head-scratcher. In fact, earnings per share in Disney's second-fiscal quarter set a company record: jumping 30% year over year to EPS of $1.08, easily beating analyst expectations of $0.96. Although nearly half of company revenues come from the low-growth Media Networks segment, sales in the Studio Entertainment division grew at a breakneck 35% clip, led by the popularity of Thor: The Dark World, and the record-setting animated blockbuster Frozen. That's an exciting internal growth engine for a blue chip like Disney.
Shares of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (NASDAQ: MPEL ) lost 5.6% today despite reporting first-quarter net income that more than quadrupled year over year. While analysts were expecting gaudy growth numbers from the Macau-based casino, Melco Crown still topped their estimates, reporting unaudited EPS of $0.44 vs. consensus $0.41 expectations. Still, investors couldn't help getting the jitters as Macau authorities started laying the law down on illegal money transfers in the world's gaming capital. There are no allegations that Melco Crown is knowingly complicit in these illicit transactions, but depending on how big the problem truly is, the crackdown could be bad for business.
Lastly, shares of Roundy's (NYSE: RNDY ) plunged 24.9% on Thursday as the Midwestern grocer whiffed on first-quarter earnings. The stock had already fallen nearly 3% yesterday as larger organic food rival Whole Foods shed nearly 20% on top- and bottom-line misses. Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey cited the rapidly increasing competition in the organic food market for pressuring same-store sales growth on Wednesday -- not good news for Roundy's, which is making concerted efforts to penetrate the high-end organic market. And, while Whole Foods is still growing same-store sales (just at a lower clip), Roundy's isn't: same-store sales dropped 5.2% in the period.
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