Why J.C. Penney, ICICI Bank, and Autodesk Jumped Today

Friday was a relatively quiet day for the stock market, as investors remained uncomfortable with some of the negative trends hitting the market, but not feeling so pessimistic as to justify sending shares into another steep downturn to close out the week. Even though most of the major-market benchmarks finished close to the unchanged level going into the weekend, J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) , ICICI Bank (NYSE: IBN  ) , and Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK  ) managed to post impressive gains today.

J.C. Penney soared 16% after reporting earnings last night that came in ahead of relatively low expectations for the long-struggling retail giant. Same-store sales rose 6.2% from the year-ago period, with store traffic rising in April for the first time in two-and-a-half years. What investors simply must remember, though, is that J.C. Penney's prior-year results were terrible, and so favorable comparisons to 2013 figures hide the much-larger declines when you look back to healthier years in the more distant past. With a loss of more than $350 million for the quarter, J.C. Penney still faces the danger of running out of capital if it can't quickly turn things around and start getting profitable again.


Source: J.C. Penney.

Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi. Source: Wikipedia, courtesy Narendra Modi.

ICICI Bank jumped 10% after the Indian bank joined many of its compatriots by celebrating the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead India. Investors in India see Modi as being a pro-business candidate, with a history in his leadership of the Indian state of Gujarat of emphasizing the need for supporting infrastructure construction, and eliminating unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy in order to facilitate action. As a result, stock markets in India have soared ever since it became clear that Modi was likely to win. Yet, some are concerned that the leader might become a polarizing figure, given Modi's headstrong assertiveness. In any event, investors in ICICI Bank and other Indian companies are giving Modi the benefit of the doubt during his honeymoon period, even though, eventually, he'll have to prove himself.

Autodesk gained 8%, with its first-quarter report satisfying investors both on revenue and earnings. Autodesk has been making a transition to a subscription-based model, and the company saw earnings fall dramatically compared to year-ago figures. But revenue jumped 4%, and an increase of 89,000 in total subscriptions showed that the transition appears to be going well for Autodesk. As a result of its success, Autodesk also raised its guidance for the remainder of the fiscal year. Even though adverse currency impacts could continue to produce headwinds for the creativity-software maker, Autodesk appears ready to face its future successfully.

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