On Wednesday, stocks extended their gains from yesterday's big jump, as investors remained enthusiastic about the prospects for strong returns in the second half of 2014 despite the current lofty levels on the most popular market benchmarks. Given that the Dow and S&P 500 once again hit new record levels today, it's no surprise that hundreds of stocks in the market are setting new highs at current levels. Nevertheless, some of those stocks performed more remarkably than others, and Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC), Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) were among the more noteworthy of the company's reaching their best levels in a year or more on Wednesday.
Stillwater Mining climbed 2.5% as investors continue to benefit from improving conditions in the platinum and palladium markets. Yesterday's positive news from the auto industry on June sales helped push platinum-group metals prices higher, with automakers needing the precious metals in order to produce pollution-control devices for their vehicles. At the same time, international production of the metals has been in jeopardy for a while, and even though labor groups in South Africa had come close to agreeing on a deal to end a long strike, some concerns about a potential new strike among miners in South Africa pushed spot prices higher. Even though Stillwater Mining has diversified its mining exposure to include gold, most investors still look at the company as a play on its platinum-group metal production, and right now, all signs look favorable for continued growth there.
Constellation Brands gained more than 2% as the beer and spirits giant released its latest earnings report. Sales jumped more than 125% thanks to the company's acquisition of Grupo Modelo's U.S. beer business last year, and strong demand led to higher volume growth and a jump of 14% in net sales. Even though sales of wine and spirits were somewhat sluggish, falling 1% after adjusting for currency fluctuations, investors applauded an increase in Constellation's profit guidance, which it raised from a range of $3.95 to $4.15 per share to a new range of $4.10 to $4.25. With operating margins for the beer business soaring, Constellation seems to be riding the right wave to future growth.
Gilead Sciences rose 2% to set a new all-time high today, as the biotech giant continues to draw enthusiasm over the prospects for its Sovaldi treatment for hepatitis C. So far, sales of the hep-C drug have been extremely strong, and Gilead hasn't even yet tapped the full potential of the drug as it's still looking for approval in some high-profile international markets, including Japan. Yet Sovaldi isn't the only treatment making news for Gilead, as the company awaits FDA approval decisions for its idelalisib drug to treat various types of blood-related cancers. With deadlines for FDA review coming in the next couple of months, shareholders hope that positive news will serve as a catalyst for further gains.
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