Wednesday was another quiet day on Wall Street, and major benchmarks finished with small losses at the end of the trading session. With relatively little in the way of significant news, market participants paid closer attention to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book reports from its constituent regional districts. Increasingly, solid economic conditions are convincing investors that the Fed will raise rates in June, and that has some people nervous about whether the long bull market will survive a rising-rate environment.
However, some individual stocks bucked the malaise and moved higher, and Hertz Global Holdings (HTZG.Q), Exact Sciences (EXAS -0.37%), and J. Jill (JILL -2.73%) 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.
Hertz drives higher
Shares of Hertz Global Holdings moved 8% higher after the company announced that it would make a major debt offering in an effort to improve the condition of its balance sheet. In particular, Hertz said that it would offer $1 billion in senior second-priority secured notes in a private offering, with the intent of using the proceeds to redeem existing debt due in 2018 and 2019. With the move, Hertz takes another step toward restructuring its substantial debt load, taking advantage of favorable conditions in the credit market to buy itself more time to deal with revenue shortfalls and net losses from its most recent quarter. Hertz's turnaround will take a while, and a single refinancing won't solve the rental-car giant's problems, but it does mark a stepping stone toward reaching greater stability for the business.
Exact Sciences gets another insurer in its corner
Exact Sciences stock gained almost 12% in the wake of news from health insurance giant UnitedHealth (UNH 0.27%) that it would cover expenses related to Exact Sciences' Cologuard test for colon cancer. User demand for Cologuard has exploded higher, largely because of the convenience of the home test and the ability to avoid the discomfort of a professionally administered colonoscopy. However, the key to success has always been convincing health insurance companies that they should cover the costs of Cologuard tests. With UnitedHealth on board, the odds are good that most major companies will eventually follow suit, and that could spell even greater growth for Exact Sciences over time.
J. Jill climbs up the hill
Finally, shares of J. Jill jumped 13%. The retailer of women's clothing and accessories announced its first-quarter financial results that included revenue gains of more than 12% and comparable-sales growth that fell just shy of the 10% mark. Guidance for both the current quarter and the full fiscal year was also encouraging, exceeding what most of those following the stock had anticipated. In a tough environment for retail, J. Jill's performance was especially impressive, given that many competitors have had difficulty producing any kind of positive growth at all, let alone the pace that J. Jill has reached. That could set the stage for the retailer's stock to get back above its initial public offering price and produce real profits for its investors.