Stock Market Today: Priceline Trounces Estimates as AMC Comes up Short

After a rough start to 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has rallied by almost 7% since February, and the nation's premier blue-chip index is now within just a few points of cracking back into positive territory for the year. This session might do the trick, though the Dow was down a slim 13 points in pre-market trading.

Dozens of public companies post earnings results throughout the day today, with Priceline Group  (NASDAQ: PCLN  ) and AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX  ) having already delivered their numbers.

Priceline beat some lofty expectations this morning. Quarterly sales for the online travel giant improved by 26% to $1.64 billion as hotel bookings surged. That revenue result put the company just ahead of the $1.63 billion that analysts were targeting. It's impressive growth for such a large company to post, sure. But investors will want to keep an eye on the rate of revenue growth, which has now slowed for three consecutive quarters: it was 33% two quarters ago and 29% last quarter. Shareholders can't complain about Priceline's profits this quarter, though. Net income climbed by 40% and overall earnings of $7.81 a share crushed Wall Street's estimates of $6.92. Meanwhile, the company gave a somewhat light forecast for next quarter's profit, calling for roughly $11.62 a share, below analysts' $12.27 target. The stock was down 3.7% in pre-market trading.

AMC Networks today posted a 37% spike in first-quarter revenue to $525 million, a solid beat over Wall Street's expectation of $507 million in sales. The jump was fueled by big advertising gains that came from the continued popularity of programming such as The Walking Dead, which boosted viewership by 24% in its fourth season. However, profit grew slower than revenue in the quarter, rising to just $0.99 a share as expenses cut into earnings. Analysts were expecting profit of closer to $1.16 a share. Still, in a press release accompanying the results, CEO Josh Sapan highlighted AMC's international business, calling it a "springboard for additional growth for the company in the years ahead." That unit's sales jumped higher by 600% in the quarter, and it is now responsible for roughly 15% of AMC's revenue. The stock was unchanged in pre-market trading.

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