Monday was a strong day for the stock market, which came off the three-day weekend with a solid advance. Major benchmarks rose as much as 1% as investors looked beyond geopolitical tensions in North Korea and around the world and instead focused on the positive prospects for corporate earnings. Despite some concerns about the releases of results from major banks last week, market participants seem generally upbeat about the chances for key players in the economy to produce positive earnings surprises. Indeed, some good news has already surfaced for a few individual companies, and Straight Path Communications (NYSEMKT:STRP), Alere (NYSE:ALR), and MoneyGram International (NASDAQ:MGI) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.
Straight Path hopes for a bidding war
Shares of Straight Path Communications jumped another 20%, adding to their impressive upward move last week. A week ago, Straight Path shares soared almost 150% after AT&T (NYSE:T) announced a deal to acquire the owner of substantial wireless spectrum assets. Yet today, some market participants believe that Straight Path might get a competing bid from rival Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) or another player in the telecommunications space, and that could push shares of Straight Path even higher. At this point, the stock has climbed so far that it's essential that Straight Path actually negotiate a better deal. Otherwise, those who seek to buy into the small industry player could end up getting burned even if an acquisition in fact takes place.
Alere's deal is still on
Alere stock jumped 16% after the diagnostic test provider announced an amended merger agreement with Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT). More than a year ago, Abbott and Alere had agreed to a combination, but legal battles emerged and threatened the deal. Over the weekend, Alere and Abbott said that rather than continuing to pursue legal action, they had instead decided to amend the terms of the merger agreement. Now, Alere shareholders will have to accept $51 per share from Abbott, which is down from the original $56-per-share deal. Nevertheless, with Alere stock having traded as low as $35 per share as investors grew more skeptical that any merger would ever take place, even the reduced offer was good news for long-nervous shareholders in the diagnostic specialist.
MoneyGram gets a better bid
Finally, shares of MoneyGram International climbed 8%. The company received a higher buyout bid from China's Ant Financial, which raised its offer by more than a third to $1.2 billion. The deal, which would amount to $18 per share for MoneyGram shareholders, exceeds the bid that rival Euronet Worldwide had made for the payment specialist. As MoneyGram executive chair Pamela Patsley said, "We are pleased to offer even more value to our stockholders through the amendment of our merger agreement with Ant Financial." Most now believe that Euronet won't try to counter again, but the share price is close enough to the new $18 offer to raise at least the possibility of further bidding.
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