Another day, another big surge for the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), which notched its fourth all-time closing high just this week! In fact, the S&P 500 has now jumped in 10 of the past 12 sessions.
The impetus for the latest boost in the iconic index relates to the release of U.S. nonfarm payroll data from the Labor Department. According to the early morning release, the U.S. economy added a seasonally adjusted 217,000 nonfarm jobs in May, which was down from a monstrous surge of 282,000 nonfarm jobs in April. The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3% month over month. While investors would never prefer to see a decline in nonfarm payrolls from a month-to-month basis, the sheer fact that the U.S. unemployment rate didn't head higher after a 0.4% plunge last month was viewed as an encouraging sign by investors that the jobs market continues to improve.
Other factors that led the S&P 500 higher include an increase of 0.2% in May's average hourly earnings, and a notable jump in consumer credit, which rose to $26.8 billion in April from just $19.5 billion in March. Higher wages and consumer credit are potentially good omens for the U.S. economy, because approximately 70% of U.S. GDP is derived from consumer spending. Of course, investors would still be wise to watch consumers' credit totals, because higher credit charges could mean a lack of disposable funds to pay for necessities, which would be bad news for the U.S. and consumers.
By the end of the day, the S&P 500 had managed to tack on another 8.98 points (0.46%) to close at 1,949.44.
Topping the list of individual gainers today, and holding true to its name, was Cheetah Mobile (NYSE:CMCM), an Internet and mobile optimization and security company based out of China. Shares sprinted higher by 22% after JPMorgan Chase, one of the underwriters that brought Cheetah Mobile to market, initiated coverage on the company with an overweight rating and a price target of $26, implying up to 61% upside based on yesterday's closing price. It's certainly not tough to support that price target, in my opinion, based on the incredible growth it's experienced in its online marketing services business. Between 2011 and 2013, Cheetah's sales have soared from roughly $22.4 million to $110 million. Further, they're expected to more than double in 2014, and surge better than 70% in 2015. With the company already profitable, I'd give it my speculative seal of approval for prospective investors to dig deeper.
Following Cheetah Mobile to the upside today on positive analyst commentary was paid review social website Angie's List (NASDAQ:ANGI). The catalyst that sent shares up 11% was an upgrade from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, which upped shares to a buy from neutral while keeping its price target steady at $16 (implying up to 58% upside from yesterday's close). Specifically, the firm noted positive comments from Angie List's CEO, as well as stabilization ARPU, or average revenue per user, as its reasoning behind the upgrade. As for me, given that it took more than a decade for Angie's List to turn profitable, and based on the fact that the barrier to entry in the social media review space is extremely low -- in fact, you can find a number of reviews on businesses for free elsewhere -- I'm still going to have to suggest investors pass on Angie's List here.
Lastly, young-adult and teen focused apparel company Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK) rallied 9.9% following positive analyst chatter from UBS -- completing the analyst chatter trifecta for today's biggest movers -- as well as insider buys at the company. According to UBS, Quiksilver remains an attractive takeover target for V.F. Corp. (NYSE:VFC) despite its shares getting throttled during the past week following weaker-than-expected quarterly results. Since V.F. prefers to grow by acquiring, and Quiksilver's action apparel meets V.F.'s theme of outdoor and action-branded apparel, a takeover could make sense.
In addition to UBS' commentary, both Quiksilver's CEO and CFO disclosed that they had purchased 100,000 shares of common stock between $3.35 and $3.40. While insider buys and sells never guarantee a stock will rise or fall, the thinking here is that the CEO and CFO wouldn't put their own money on the line if they didn't believe in the business. While keeping my expectations tempered, I do believe Quiksilver could be worth a closer look for investors with a long-term time horizon, and who aren't afraid to take risks.
Sean Williams owns shares of Bank of America, but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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