Friday's trading was dominated by the unexpected results of Thursday's U.K. vote on the question of its relationship with the European Union, and the decision of Britons to leave the EU sent stock markets worldwide plunging. The Dow finished with losses of more than 600 points, and the 3% to 4% drops for U.S. major-market benchmarks were actually fairly tame compared to much-larger declines in markets in Japan and throughout Europe.
Nevertheless, even amid the uncertainty, a few investments proved their mettle under fire. Among the best performers on the day were Chesapeake Utilities (NYSE:CPK), Gold Fields International (NYSE:GFI), and Finish Line.
The other Chesapeake climbs the wall of worry
Chesapeake Utilities gained more than 8% as the natural gas and electricity distributor benefited from a couple of positive trends. First, analysts at Hilliard Lyons upgraded the stock to a long-term buy, setting a price target of $72 per share on the stock, and arguing that the utility offers a combination of an attractive valuation and the potential for substantial growth.
Perhaps more importantly, investors sought safer stocks, generally, and the utilities sector was one of the only ones to post an overall gain on the day Friday. Even though both of those trends helped to support the stock, Chesapeake Utilities will still have to find opportunities in both its regulated and unregulated businesses in order to justify investors' confidence.
Gold Fields shines brighter
Gold Fields International climbed 9% on the back of a big jump in gold prices. Nervous investors fled for safe-haven assets like gold, pushing bullion prices up by almost $60 per ounce, and climbing above the $1,320-per-ounce level.
Overall, gold-mining stocks benefited from the flight to safety, with a broad benchmark of gold miners climbing 6% on the day. But Gold Fields also stands out because of its attractive cost structure and operational framework, and the company continues to look for ways to produce gold more cheaply, and boost its overall profits.
Finish Line puts its foot down
Finally, Finish Line soared 22%. The athletic retailer reported first-quarter earnings that were better than expected, and a 1.5% boost in comparable sales put to rest fears that a tough retail environment more broadly would hold back the company's results. More importantly, Finish Line said that it expected growth in comps to rise to 3% to 5% for the full year, and guidance for earnings was consistent with the consensus forecast among those following the stock.
Conditions in the industry remain challenging, and Finish Line isn't out of the woods yet. But positive sales results in its relationship with shoemaker Adidas suggest that the retailer has a chance to survive, even against larger competitors.