Stocks closed out the second week of 2017 with a whimper, as major indexes ended near flat. The big banks kicked off earnings, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average barely flinched, finishing essentially where it started, while the S&P 500 gained slightly.
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Among ETFs making moves today was SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (NYSEMKT:KRE), which finished up 1.1% on upbeat reports from the big banks. Elsewhere, the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3x ETF (NYSEMKT:NUGT) ticked up 1.6% as gold prices continue to increase.
As for individual stocks, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) was the leader among the big banks that posted earnings today, which also included JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
In the streaming-music industry, Pandora Media (NYSE:P) shares took off as the company lifted its fourth-quarter guidance and said that it added more subscribers than projected.
Wells Fargo continues to put last September's consumer banking scandal behind it, as shares climbed 1.5%. Profit declined at the San Francisco-based bank, but investors overlooked that anticipating a better 2017, as many expect interest rates to rise.
Earnings per share fell from $1 a year ago to $0.96, a shortfall the bank blamed partly on bad interest-rate hedges. Revenue was flat, at $21.58 billion. Both figures missed analyst estimates, but the stock rose nonetheless.
Profits in its community banking division, where the sales-tactic scandal took place, dropped 15%, partly due to the consumer backlash. Checking account and credit card applications were down 40% and 43% respectively, in December, a sign that it may take time to win back the trust of consumers. Total loans were up solidly due to strong commercial demand.
Still, with a supposedly friendly administration coming into the White House and the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates, Wells Fargo looks like it's put the worst of the scandal safely behind it.
Turn the music up
Pandora investors got a much-needed piece of good news as shares of that stock rose 6.3% today. The online jukebox has recently found itself playing third fiddle to Spotify and Apple Music, but topped expectations in its fourth quarter. The company said revenue would beat its previous range of $362 million-$374 million, and it would also surpass its own EBITDA guidance. Its paid subscriber count is now more than 4.3 million thanks to 375,000 net new subscribers on Pandora Plus.
Pandora also said it would cut its workforce by 7% in order to boost operational efficiency. The online DJ is now a 15-year-old company, but has long struggled to turn a profit due to a business model that pays out about half of its revenue for content.
Given its financial problems, the improved performance, subscriber growth, and layoffs are all positive signs. Still, Pandora's best endgame at this point might be to get bought out, as many have already speculated.