Based on the early part of the week, you would have thought investors would be on pins and needles all day on Thursday, waiting for the results of today's referendum in the U.K. on whether the island nation will leave the European Union. Instead, stock markets jumped higher, expressing confidence either that the vote will go favorably, or that the U.S. economy will remain resolutely strong regardless of the outcome. By the close, the Dow climbed above the 18,000 mark, and major market benchmarks posted gains of 1% or more.
Micron Technology jumped more than 10% after the maker of memory chips received favorable comments from analysts at two different financial institutions Thursday morning. Susquehanna Group upgraded the company from neutral to positive, citing favorable pricing trends that could continue into the second half of the year. Although some worried about Micron's less-than-ideal position in supplying the mobile device market, the company's exposure to the PC and server markets has served it well lately. Nomura analysts raised their outlook from reduce to buy, making broader claims about the health of several semiconductor sub-industries. With the stock having posted steep declines in 2016, Micron's bounce makes sense even though some of those following the stock aren't as optimistic about future pricing trends.
Barnes & Noble rose 8% in the wake of its fiscal fourth-quarter financial report Wednesday afternoon. The bookstore retailer reported a 4% drop in revenue and a wider net loss of $0.42 per share, as comparable-store sales fell by 0.8%. However, CEO Ron Boire pointed to several initiatives designed to boost the company's sales in the coming fiscal year, including the opening of new concept stores and moves to improve its marketing and merchandising efforts to make its stores more attractive. Although Barnes & Noble expects further deterioration in same-store sales in fiscal 2017, the overall outlook includes a narrowing of losses related to its Nook reader and efforts to bring the company closer to earning a profit. Given its long history of difficulties, the hint of a light at the end of the tunnel is enough to make shareholders happy.
Finally, Apogee Enterprises climbed 9%. The architectural glass specialist reported its fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday afternoon, and earnings per share climbed by nearly half from year-ago levels on a 3% rise in overall revenue. Success in growing the company's sales in the architectural services and architectural framing systems offset revenue declines in architectural glass, and more favorable project timing in the future should lead to improving results in the current quarter. Apogee boosted its full-year fiscal 2017 earnings guidance, and at this point, the company believes it has strong long-term prospects to continue taking advantage of a favorable market in the construction industry for its high-value products.