Stocks vaulted to new all-time record highs as investors continued to focus on the generally favorable conditions in the U.S. economy, ignoring potential risks from conflict in Iraq. With the Federal Reserve having confirmed the optimistic mood among investors that the domestic economy is moving forward as anticipated and will continue to enjoy the support of the central bank to ensure it stays on a positive course, the path of least resistance for the markets remains up. Moreover, positive news continues to flood in on the individual company front, with CarMax (NYSE: KMX ) , Flamel Technologies (NASDAQ: FLML ) , and ExOne (NASDAQ: XONE ) among the best performers Friday.
CarMax soared more than 16% as the national auto retailer reported extremely strong results for its most recent quarter. Revenue jumped 13% on a 9.8% rise in total unit sales, with same-store unit sales jumping by 3.4%. Earnings came in well above what shareholders had expected to see, as traffic rose both to existing stores and to its e-commerce website, with new locations in previously untapped markets paving the way to future growth. In particular, average monthly visits to the company's website jumped by a quarter, with its mobile site seeing even faster growth. Even as the economic recovery has gained speed, many car buyers have been reluctant to replace older vehicles, and CarMax has cashed in on the desire for reliable yet less expensive used-car offerings rather than buying new.
Flamel Technologies jumped 19% as speculation rose that the maker of the FDA-approved neostigmine methylsulfate injection product Bloxiverz will win exclusivity, with the FDA expected to stop allowing previously grandfathered unapproved neostigmine treatments to be sold. Bloxiverz is indicated for use in reversing the effects of certain neuromuscular blocking agents during surgery. The situation is an unusual one because typically, gaining FDA approval is the point at which companies get exclusive rights to sell a particular compound. With limited supplies of neostigmine having been available recently, giving Flamel exclusive rights could help it capture the entire neostigmine market and potentially boost its profits substantially.
ExOne climbed 9% despite getting downgraded by an analyst firm today. ExOne has fallen sharply along with companies throughout the 3-D printing space, as investors struggle to figure out fair valuations for stocks within the high-growth industry. Still, ExOne's emphasis on printing metal objects could prove to be extremely valuable, especially as many major potential buyers of 3-D printers would include companies in the business of producing fabricated metal parts for assembly. Despite concerns about a major customer's future plans, ExOne still has a good shot at finding new avenues for growth.
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