On Monday, the stock market battled to a draw, with some major-market benchmarks losing ground while others gained modestly as investors prepared themselves for the second half of 2014. Investors have mixed emotions about the first half of the year, with markets holding their ground and advancing modestly but failing to match the exciting gains from 2013. Nevertheless, some stocks stood out from their peers, and King Digital Entertainment (NYSE: KING ) , ExOne (NASDAQ: XONE ) , and Ctrip.com International (NASDAQ: CTRP ) were among the better-performing stocks in the market Monday.
King Digital soared 15% as investors speculated over whether the mobile-gaming giant might be able to get back to its IPO price of $22.50 per share for the first time since going public in March, as the stock dropped out immediately after its initial public offering and hasn't approached that level since. Friday's gains for rival Glu Mobile (NASDAQ: GLUU ) continued today, with Glu stock rising another 6%, and some of the same factors that could push Glu higher work just as well or even better for King Digital's bullish thesis.
ExOne rose 5%, even though a much-followed analyst selected the 3-D printing company's stock as a bearish bet. Most of the major players in the 3-D space rose today, with smaller players seeing somewhat larger gains than better-established companies in the industry. Yet although minor news items occur on a regular basis among the 3-D printing companies, much of the daily movements of shares of ExOne and its peers comes from the supply and-demand dynamics of shareholders and short-sellers, and some have argued that a short-term short squeeze could be sending shares bouncing sharply from recent lows. Even with today's gains, though, ExOne shares have lost a third of their value so far in 2014, and it'll therefore take a 50% up move in the second half of the year for the stock to have a chance of breaking even for 2014.
Ctrip.com International also gained more than 5%, with the Chinese provider of travel services benefiting from a big increase in price targets from a major international stock analyst. Despite recent downgrades from other companies, Deutsche Bank pushed up its target on the stock from $58 to $74 per share. Uncertainty about the future course of Chinese economic growth has held back some of China's top stocks, but in the long run, the online travel industry has plenty of room to grow in China as its middle class grows and becomes better able to afford trips. Competition marks a challenge for Ctrip, but the company has a key first-mover advantage and should be able to consolidate its gains if it works hard to keep new entrants at bay.
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