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Why Select Comfort, Sallie Mae, and Cliffs Natural Resources Jumped Today

By Dan Caplinger – Apr 20, 2017 at 4:27PM

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These stocks helped lead the market to an outstanding day. Find out why.

The stock market rebounded sharply on Thursday, making up for losses earlier in the week. Major benchmarks were up around 1% following solid earnings performances from several key companies, and some optimism about the possible fate of Trump administration policy on issues like corporate tax reform also helped turn around negative sentiment from previous sessions. Strength in the labor market was also a positive, and individual stocks Select Comfort (SNBR 12.50%), SLM Corp. (SLM -16.81%), and Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF -1.19%) 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.

Select Comfort gets a good night's sleep

Shares of Select Comfort jumped 28% in the wake of better quarterly results than investors had expected, as well as solid guidance for the mattress maker. The producer of the Sleep Number bed said that sales climbed 12% on comparable-store growth of 3%. Earnings more than doubled from year-ago levels, and Select Comfort raised its earnings projections for full-year 2017 by between $0.05 and $0.10 per share, hitting the $1.25 to $1.50 per share mark. CEO Shelly Ibach said that "consumers are responding enthusiastically to our brand and differentiated products," and with the coming introduction of the Sleep Number 360 bed line, investors are excited that Select Comfort might do even better going forward.

Sleep Number bed awards.

Image source: SleepNumber.com.

Sallie Mae is in the money

SLM Corp. stock gained 10% after announcing its first-quarter earnings results. The company behind Sallie Mae student loans said that key metrics were up sharply, including a 29% rise in the size of its loan portfolio, a 28% boost to net interest income, and a 43% increase in earnings per share. Sallie Mae originated $1.8 billion in private education loans during the quarter. CEO Raymond Quinlan was happy about Sallie Mae's "meaningful shift toward becoming a consumer bank," taking on a wider variety of financial products including things like online savings accounts. With solid capital ratios that dramatically exceed the requirements for well-capitalized financial institutions, Sallie Mae is in a strong position to look at future growth opportunities and find new ways to squeeze more profit from the financial industry.

Cliffs climbs on steel optimism

Finally, shares of Cliffs Natural Resources finished up 9%. The supplier of iron ore to the steel industry benefited from better sentiment among steel stocks following action from the U.S. government to look at potential barriers to imported steel. In particular, a presidential executive order instructed the Commerce Department to initiate a national security investigation with respect to steel imports, with the possibility of resulting tariffs. That would be good news for Cliffs and other stocks related to steel production, but some policymakers worry that a resulting increase in domestic steel prices would only hurt American manufacturers of products that require steel as an input. Although many point to China as a major instigator of global steel market problems, the president chose not to name China as his justification for the executive order.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cliffs Natural Resources. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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