It was a great week for the markets, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 trading more than 3% higher for the week and hitting record highs. As the dust and initial panic after the election settle, more people are expressing positive economic attitudes. That was evidenced by The University of Michigan's consumer-sentiment gauge, which surged 4.5% to 98. That level was the second strongest reported since 2004, and investors are hoping that optimism carries the consumer to a strong holiday season.
With that said, here's a look at a handful of stocks making big headlines or big moves in the markets this week.
Too rich for my blood
Shares of Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK), a software company that develops products for people and companies that make things in many markets and industries, touched record highs this week after Canaccord Genuity upgraded the stock Tuesday.
Analyst Richard Davis moved Autodesk stock from "hold" to "buy" and raised his price target from $70 per share to $95. "While other sectors are a decade into this (cloud) transition, design engineers have finally discovered the advantages of back-end (cloud) computing, multiplatform file access and collaboration, and modern user interfaces," Davis noted in a report to clients.
It was a welcomed reversal for investors after Autodesk posted steep declines after its third-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates, but investors were underwhelmed with guidance. Autodesk seems well positioned to continue providing value to consumers and attract subscribers to its platform, and it benefits from its customers' high switching costs. That said, if consumers are buying in now near all-time highs, understand that it's a richly valued company that remains thus far unprofitable.
Adapt or die
BorgWarner Inc. (NYSE:BWA) was one of the top performers in the S&P 500 this week, rising 15%. One positive development for BorgWarner investors, albeit not its former employees, was that the company won a long-running lawsuit by retirees who accused the company of altering their health benefits, which allegedly was in violation of collective bargaining agreements. On Dec. 5, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the retirees' health benefits weren't vested for life, and for that reason, BorgWarner could modify them. It put an end to a lawsuit that began in 2009 and lifted some uncertainty around the company.
Beyond that, there's been some concern about automotive suppliers, as the automotive industry increasingly appears to be heading to an electric-vehicle future. The reason for concern becomes clear when you read about BorgWarner's business: It's a supplier of automotive systems and components for powertrain applications that help improve vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, among others. Obviously, a future with electric vehicles that don't need gasoline engine-powered powertrains or better fuel efficiency would cripple BorgWarner -- unless it adapts.
With the lawsuit aside, investors can go back to watching how BorgWarner adapts to the evolving auto industry; at least one example shows progress, as BorgWarner provides BYD Auto -- a fast-growing automaker in China that deals in hybrids and electric vehicles -- with multiple turbochargers for its hybrid electric vehicles.
This game is far from over
Another stock that did extremely well this week was Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY), which jumped 20% this week after the restaurant company reported strong third-quarter earnings.
Starting with the top line, revenue jumped 19% to $228.7 million, compared with the prior quarter, driven by a healthy 5.9% increase in same-store sales, as the company's marketing has done well, attracting more consumers to its restaurants. On the bottom line, its net income moved from $4.6 million, or $0.11 per share, to $10.8 million, or $0.25 per share, during the third quarter, ahead of Wall Street's $0.13 forecast.
As icing on the cake, management even upped guidance slightly for the full year, from previous guidance of between $983 million and $995 million up to between $998 million and $1.003 billion. Dave & Buster's also plans to open 11 new stores this year, which is an extra store than originally expected.
This was a strong third quarter for a company with momentum. If it can sustain its comparable-store sales increases, expect more quarters like this.