Despite a downward revision to first-quarter GDP, stocks pushed further north, and the S&P 500 set yet another record today, closing at 1,920 after gaining 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) , meanwhile, closed up 66 points, or 0.4%, while the Nasdaq also added 0.5%.
The market had expected the first GDP revision to show a contraction, but the -1% contraction announced was worse than the -0.5% the market expected. Poor winter weather dampened output in the beginning of the year, but investors have moved on, as many analysts expect strong GDP numbers for the second quarter due to pent-up demand.
Today, more good news from the labor market came in as initial unemployment claims last week fell to 300,000, down from 327,000 in the previous week, and better than economist estimates at 318,000. The drop caused the four-week moving average to fall to a near-seven-year low, at 311,500. Continuing unemployment claims also fell, again, declining to 2.631 million, its lowest level since November 2007. Analysts project the economy added nearly 300,000 jobs in May, which would be its second month in a row of robust growth. Pending home sales also edged up 0.4% in April, but that was less than the 1% increase economists expected.
Making news after hours today was Annie's (NYSE: BNNY ) , whose shares fell 17% after its fourth-quarter earnings report missed the mark. The maker of organic food products, including mac and cheese, said sales increased 16%, to $60.1 million, short of estimates at $61.1 million, and EPS was up from $0.27 to $0.29, missing expectations at $0.34. Costs rose sharply in the quarter as adjusted gross margin fell 410 basis points due to higher wheat costs, the addition of new products, and changes to the product mix. Organic wheat costs are outside the control of the company, which may be a reason to overlook them, but they are still having a significant impact on profitability. CEO John Foraker said the brand was performing "exceptionally well in the marketplace," and said the company had "improved its forward cost coverage of organic wheat." Looking ahead, Annie's expects 18% to 20% sales growth for fiscal 2015, in line with estimates, but EPS guidance of just $0.88-$0.95, well shy of the consensus at $1.13, and just a small improvement from fiscal 2014's EPS of $0.88. Annie's noted an inventory reduction by its largest customer, and increases in SG&A costs due to hiring for future growth. While, investors shouldn't fault a company for planning for the future, the guidance is disappointing for a company priced for so much growth.
Moving in the opposite direction was Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (NASDAQ: PLKI ) , whose shares finished up 14% after the company beat estimates on top and bottom lines, and raised its guidance. Popeyes saw comparable sales rise 4.6% in the quarter, indicating that its newly remodeled stores seem to be paying off. The company reaffirmed its long-term guidance of 13%-15% EPS growth during the next five years. Shares aren't cheap, but at a time when many traditional fast-food chains are struggling, Popeyes seems to have the right recipe for steady growth.
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