Dow Flat; Disney Gains on Comic-Con 2014 as Zoe's Kitchen Heats Up

Pandora Media, one of the day's big gainers, plunges in after-hours trading after disappointing forecasts

Jul 24, 2014 at 6:52PM

Ignoring increasingly tumultuous geopolitical tensions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was nearly unmoved on Thursday, as investors instead chose to focus on corporate earnings and fresh economic data. The data was mixed, as jobless claims unexpectedly plummeted along with new home sales, painting a picture of a recovering labor market that can't yet afford to spring for a new home. The Dow, torn between the implications of the data, barely budged, losing two points, or less than 0.1%, to end at 17,083.

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shareholders were more focused on a little Californian town called San Diego -- rumored to mean "Saint Diego" -- than anything else in the world on Thursday. That's because Comic-Con 2014 kicked off in San Diego today, and Disney has a healthy chunk of skin in the game when it comes to comics. Comic-Con, which has grown into a sort of nerd mecca over the years, will provide a good gauge of popularity for Disney's upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie, set to debut Aug. 1. Not only will Wall Street be watching the crowds at Comic-Con for overly enthusiastic fans (they won't be hard to find), but, according to the Motley Fool's Nathan Alderman, Disney will also likely reveal some of Marvel's previously untitled film projects this weekend. Disney stock added 0.9% today.

Shares of Pandora Media (NYSE:P) were even bigger gainers on the day, jumping 4.3% Thursday ahead of its quarterly earnings announcement this afternoon. After the announcement, however, shares of the streaming music service plummeted, crumbling by as much as 11%, as investors discovered there weren't enough seats to go around when the music stopped. Curiously enough, the music isn't really stopping at Pandora, which saw sales jump by nearly 40% in the second quarter. The sell-off occurred due to Pandora's third-quarter earnings forecasts, which were far weaker than Wall Street expected. While analysts were looking for third-quarter EPS of $0.08, Pandora guided for EPS anywhere between $0.05 and $0.08. Although it remains popular, Pandora's content-acquisition costs and licensing fees are spiraling out of control; with no end in sight to that trend, Pandora stock looks more like Pandora's box from where I stand.


Investors thought Zoe's Kitchen stock looked delicious on Thursday

Shares of Zoe's Kitchen (NYSE:ZOES) also finished as big winners Thursday, surging 4.8%. The Mediterranean-themed restaurant chain doesn't report earnings until Aug. 4, but Chipotle Mexican Grill's explosive second-quarter report on Tuesday sent shares soaring, Wall Street is betting that the fast-casual craze will translate to Zoe's Kitchen, as well. Indeed, people are already comparing the two stocks. It's true that Zoe's Kitchen is spreading like wildfire, opening new stores at a blistering pace, while also growing same-store sales. It's no easy feat, but it's also no sure bet; and in the case of a bumpy economy, this restaurateur may be forced to shutter locations and stifle growth, which is the stock's most loyal ally today.

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John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

 The Motley Fool recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill, Pandora Media, Walt Disney, and Zoe's Kitchen. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Pandora Media, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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