The stock market finally broke its winning streak on Wednesday, as investors paused in their continued run toward new record-high levels. Yet, even as sentiment grows nervous about whether the bull market can keep climbing steadily upward, several stocks set new highs of their own. Among them, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) were some of the most notable. But a few stocks, including Coeur Mining (NYSE:CDE), reached new lows for the year.
ConocoPhillips rose less than 1%, but that was enough to send the oil exploration and production company to a new all-time record. Today's move came after an analyst upgraded the stock, but ConocoPhillips' true value comes from its shareholder-focused approach. Many major oil companies look at the industry from the vantage point of whether to boost production levels to the maximum extent possible, or simply to consolidate and hold onto their best opportunities. But ConocoPhillips has combined realistic production-growth targets with the financial discipline to insist on lower-cost, high-margin project opportunities. As long as fundamental conditions remain favorable in the industry, ConocoPhillips has the potential to reach even greater heights.
Delta Air Lines jumped 2% to reach its best levels since emerging from bankruptcy in 2007. The key for Delta and other airlines has been the huge gains in profitability that they've achieved in recent years, with consolidation in the industry helping to reduce competition at the same time that innovative new ways to collect revenue from passengers has helped improve bottom lines, as well. Yet, investors remain skeptical, assigning a rock-bottom earnings multiple of 10 to Delta shares that reflects the belief that the airline is near the top of its business cycle. Certainly, investors have gotten burned by airlines before, so being reluctant to bid shares upward is understandable. But with best-in-class factors supporting the airline, Delta, in particular, looks strong.
On the other side of the coin, Coeur Mining fell 4% on another bad day for the silver miner. Silver prices have fallen back from gains earlier in the year, extending their major slump since early 2013, and putting the entire mining industry into critical condition. Yet, Coeur Mining, in particular, disappointed shareholders today by choosing not to allocate more capital toward its Joaquin silver and gold mine in southern Argentina. Coeur CEO Mitchell Krebs cited capital controls in Argentina as an obstacle toward further investment, but many investors fear that Coeur will also shutter its La Preciosa mine project in Mexico, at least temporarily. As mining companies all face capital shortages due to lower gold and silver prices, it'll be hard for Coeur Mining to recover until bullion bounces back more permanently.
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