Wall Street marked time once again on Wednesday, and major market benchmarks posted mixed results. The Nasdaq performed the worst as some major technology stocks reported disappointing earnings, but broader-based indexes finished closer to the unchanged level. News that the Federal Reserve left interest rates at their current levels at their May meeting came as no surprise, but investors couldn't get clear direction on whether a rate hike could be in store for its June meeting. Nevertheless, some individual stocks did extremely well thanks to company-specific news, and First Solar (FSLR 1.51%), Bridgepoint Education (ZVO), and New York Times (NYT 0.88%) 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.
First Solar has its day in the sun
Shares of First Solar climbed 12% after the company reported extremely good financial results for its first quarter. Investors watching the solar giant had anticipated that First Solar would lose money on a substantial drop in sales, but the company managed to eke out $0.25 per share in adjusted earnings for the quarter on 2% top-line growth. In bigger-picture terms, CEO Mark Widmar pointed to the company's progression to its Series 6 solar products, and favorable views of the future prompted First Solar to boost its revenue and earnings outlook for the full year substantially. In the second quarter, First Solar expects $0.25 to $0.75 per share in earnings, compared to roughly breakeven guidance previously. If the solar giant can keep executing well, then investors appear ready to embrace First Solar's recovery with open arms.
Bridgepoint learns how to cut costs
Bridgepoint Education stock soared 22% in the wake of a favorable first-quarter financial report. The for-profit education specialist said that revenue eased lower by 3%, but Bridgepoint reversed a year-ago loss with net income of $9.9 million, or $0.23 per share. Student enrollment was down more than 4,400 students to 46,383, but retention rates held relatively steady at 60%. Even as Bridgepoint has seen fewer students come through the door, the company has done a good job of cutting back on its expenses, and that has resulted in far better profits than the roughly breakeven performance that most investors were expecting to see. Today's move pushed the stock to its highest level in three years, and investors appear more confident than ever that some of the pressure that has held Bridgepoint back could finally start to disappear.
New York Times: Black, white, and read all over
Finally, New York Times shares climbed 12%. The newspaper giant reversed a year-ago GAAP loss in its first-quarter results, posting modest but solid gains in adjusted operating profit and net income. Yet what really wowed investors was the fact that the company added 308,000 net digital subscriptions during the quarter, which was the fastest quarter of growth in the company's history. Digital advertising revenue also rose sharply, showing that New York Times' strategy to turn toward the mobile realm for growth appears to be working. With print advertising revenue continuing to fall, it's essential that the newspaper giant move forward with adapting to the changing ways that its readers get their news, but New York Times is taking full advantage of a popularity boost to draw in new subscribers.