Why Hawaiian Holdings, Talisman Energy, and SouFun Holdings are Today's 3 Best Stocks

Earnings season pushed on and helped Hawaiian to a big gain, while Talisman roared higher on acquisitions speculation

Jul 23, 2014 at 5:15PM
Daily Fool

Earnings season's ramped up into full force across the markets, but the major indices didn't get much of a boost on a day surprisingly light on major economic indicators and data. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) closed the day out by gaining around 0.2%, or 3.5 points, hovering just slightly under the 2,000-point mark.

Wall Street shook off lingering pessimism about international events today, even as fighting in Ukraine picked up with the downing of two fighter jets in the violence-torn country. While the turbulence threatens to blow over into deeper economic measures, so far European markets have managed to avoid much volatility from the situation.

Instead, eyes around the investing world today keyed in on earnings reports. Several blue-chippers reported quarterly results today, but one of the market's best stocks came from aviation, as Hawaiian Holdings (NASDAQ:HA), the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, reported standout earnings and saw its stock climb 13.7% as a result.

Hawaiian Airlines

A pair of Hawaiian Airlines 767s. Source: Wikimedia Commons,

Hawaiian's net profit more than doubled year over year, and the company's adjusted per-share earnings jumped by a whopping 46% in Q2. Even revenue surprised in a good way, climbing by 7.8% overall as passenger revenues jumped more than 4% in the quarters. Perhaps most importantly, Hawaiian's climbing revenue managed to outpace its increasing cost burden in the quarter, as the company's operating expenses pushed higher by 5.6% in the quarter.

It's a breath of fresh air for Hawaiian shareholders, who have watched this stock plummet by more than 11% in the last three months before today despite a gain of more than 93% over the past year. Yet Hawaiian could be poised to continue surging going ahead. The airline saw revenue per available seat mile drop by nearly 4% in 2013, but the company expects operating revenue per seat mile to climb between 3% and 6% in the third quarter, outpacing its 1% to 4% increase projection for costs per available seat mile, minus fuel expenses. With a stock priced below many of the major airlines on an earnings basis, Hawaiian justified its big jump today with a stellar second quarter.

Repsol Station

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Canadian oil and gas producer Talisman Energy (NYSE:TLM) also received a boost on the day, ranking among the top large-cap leaders with a 13.4% climb. But Talisman wasn't buoyed by earnings season: Instead, the stock hit a lift after sources told various outlets that leading Spanish oil producer Repsol (NASDAQOTH:REPYY) is investigating a potential bid to acquire Talisman.

While Talisman shied away from confirming any details, the company offers upside that Repsol could want to get its hands on. Talisman holds assets in Texas's Eagle Ford, an area rich in oil, along with North Sea assets and other shale gas holdings. It's a potentially huge gift to shareholders, who have watched as Talisman has conducted sales to work down debt even as its stock had slumped by more than 15% year-to-date coming into today. While there's no definitive word out yet, Repsol could be in line to expand its position significantly in Canada and elsewhere – and Talisman investors, at least today, welcomed the boost.

Our last big winner of the day came from across the Pacific, as China's SouFun Holdings (NYSE:SFUN), the largest online real estate portal in Asia's top market, picked up 10.9% today. SouFun's stock has been in a major funk in 2014 as concerns over China's housing market have hit home, slamming this stock by 34% year-to-date. But today top real Chinese estate giants picked up steam as major cities such as Jinan ease housing purchase restrictions , particularly as market prices have dropped for two consecutive months – and as 55 of 70 reporting cities showed a decline in prices in June, according to Bloomberg.

The Chinese economy's still struggling to hold onto its vaunted 7.5% growth rate that Beijing has touted as a long-term goal. However, if prices continue to retreat, China's economy can stay on track, and cities open up their housing market to more purchases, SouFun and other leading Chinese real estate names could be poised for a bounce back in the second half of the year.

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Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BMW and Nike and owns shares of Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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