Stock Market Today: Finish Line Soars and Commercial Metals Drops

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) lost 33 points in pre-market trading, suggesting a lower start to the stock market today. Global stocks didn't budge much overnight: Asian markets fell by less than 0.5% while Europe's Stoxx index was flat as of 8:30 a.m. EDT. In earnings news, Finish Line (NASDAQ: FINL  ) and Commercial Metals (NYSE: CMC  ) stocks could see heavy trading after the companies' quarterly numbers were released this morning.

Finish Line shares are aiming for a new all-time high in today's session after the shoe retailer posted impressive first-quarter earnings results. Sales rose by 16% year over year, to $407 million. Wall Street had targeted revenue of just $395 million. Earnings of $0.28 a share also solidly beat the $0.21 estimate as the company's gross profit margin improved by more than 1 percentage point to 32% of sales. That's still well below the 46% margin that Dow giant Nike posted last night, but Finish Line investors should be happy with the rising results. The company saw comparable-store sales growth of 5% in the quarter, again trailing Nike's 10%, but impressive nonetheless. Finish Line also reaffirmed its full-year guidance for a "mid single digits" increase in comparable-store sales. The stock was up 3.1% in pre-market trading.  

Commercial Metals' earnings results today came in just below analysts' estimates. Profit was $0.20 a share on $1.8 billion in revenue, roughly flat year over year and trailing the $0.29 and $1.85 billion that Wall Street anticipated. However, the metals producer saw some encouraging signs of demand growth, particularly in the construction industry. Thanks to that sales strength, Commercial Metals booked its best operating profit in its North American business since 2009. Shipment volumes rose by almost 100 tons and average selling prices crept higher. CEO Joe Alvarado said in a press release that management expects growth in the construction sector to keep lifting sales in the current quarter at about the same pace as this past quarter's results. Meanwhile, recent investments in productivity and cost improvements should start boosting financial results in the company's fiscal 2015, which begins in three months. Commercial Metals' stock was down 3% in pre-market trading.


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