Stocks edged higher today as M&A news dominated headlines, and volatile Internet and biotech names swung back upward. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished the day up 21 points, or 0.1%, as the S&P 500 improved 0.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 0.9%. AT&T finished down 1% after it agreed to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The satellite TV provider actually dropped 1.8%, as the deal was expected and already priced in to the stock. At a time of rapid consolidation in the telecom industry, the deal gives AT&T greater reach into video, an area it's targeted for expansion.
Elsewhere, AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer's final offer to buy the British drugmaker, sending shares of the target down 12%. Last night, Pfizer had offered to pay $119 billion for AstraZeneca, nearly a 20% premium over its closing price Friday. AstraZeneca has a valuable drug pipeline and an acquisition would have enabled to Pfizer to move its headquarters abroad, cutting its tax expense. In rejecting Pfizer's bid, AstraZeneca Chairman Leif Johansson said that Pfizer "failed to make a compelling strategic, business, or value case."
There were no economic reports on the docket today, but earnings reports continued to roll in. After hours, Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN ) shares slid 4% after the clothing chain's bottom line missed expectations. Urban Outfitters posted per-share earnings of $0.26, a penny short of estimates, but sales were better than expected, growing 5.9% to $686.3 million against the consensus at $681.9 million. Comparable sales companywide, which include e-commerce, were flat for the quarter, and sales at its namesake stores were "disappointing," falling 12%, though they were countered by gains at Anthropologie and Free People. CEO Richard Hayne acknowledged the disappointing quarter at the Urban Outfitters brand and said the company was "working diligently to regain its fashion footing." Despite the increase in sales, net income actually fell as gross margin dropped 209 basis points in part due to lower comparable sales at Urban Outfitters brand. Shifts in teen fashion tastes have been blamed for poor performance at Urban Outfitters stores, but management will have to find a cure for that margin compression in order for the stock to recover.
Earlier in the day, Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB ) fell 2.4% after its outlook was cooler than expected. The food maker has struggled to find growth as consumers shy away from processed and packaged food, and its revenue increased just 1% in the quarter to $1.97 billion, short of estimates at $2 billion. Growth in U.S. Simple Meals was solid at 7%, but U.S. Soup sales were flat, and international sales declined significantly. Cost-cutting helped the company achieve an increase in adjusted profit from $0.58 per share to $0.62, ahead of estimates at $0.59. Still, investors seemed turned off as the company lowered its full-year sales forecast from continuing operations to 3% growth, and said expects EPS to come in at the low end of its previously stated range of $2.53-$2.58.
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