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What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Jim Crumly – Updated Nov 22, 2017 at 5:15PM

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On a day the major indexes closed down in pre-holiday trading, shares of Copart soared on a strong quarter, and Guess? plummeted after reporting disappointing sales.

Stocks had a quiet Wednesday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.41%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.56%) ended the session with small losses.

Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow (0.27%) (64.65)
S&P 500 (0.08%) (1.95)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Rising crude prices gave a boost to energy stocks, and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP 1.05%) gained 1.7%. Gold rose, too; the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD -1.12%) closed up 0.9%.

As for individual stocks, Copart (CPRT 0.28%) shares shot up on strong sales and profits, and Guess? (GES -0.94%) disappointed investors with its latest sales numbers and its outlook for the rest of the year.

New York Stock Exchange with flags.

Image source: Getty Images.

Copart reports strong growth

Shares of online auto auctioneer Copart soared 11.7% after the company announced fiscal first-quarter results that greatly exceeded analysts' expectations. Revenue increased 21% to $419 million and non-GAAP earnings per share jumped 18% to $0.33. Analysts were expecting the company to earn $0.26 per share on sales of $379 million. Service revenue increased 21.8% and vehicle sales were up 15.8%. 

Hurricane Harvey resulted in increased volumes of vehicles for Copart to salvage and sell, but the profits won't appear in full until the second half of the fiscal year. In the first quarter, the company incurred costs of $35.8 million and generated $18.6 million in revenue from hurricane-related vehicle sales, for a net loss of $17.2 million before taxes.

Copart had warned analysts last quarter that Harvey was going to add to costs in the Q1 without showing up as sales until the third or fourth quarter. The market had braced for a worse result on the top and bottom lines, and the fact that the company could turn around sales of salvaged vehicles so quickly had investors bidding up shares to an all-time high.

Guess? shares tumble on sales growth concerns

Denim specialist Guess reported disappointing sales numbers for the third fiscal quarter and lowered guidance for the full year, causing the stock to drop 12.9%. Revenue was up 3.3% to $554 million, but analysts were expecting $570 million. Guidance for full-year revenue growth was lowered from a range of 6%-7.5% to a range of 6%-6.5%. Adjusted earnings per share was up a penny from last year to $0.12.

Sales in the Americas region decreased 14.3% in constant currency terms on a decline in comparable sales of 11%. That weakness was expected, but sales into Europe, now the company's largest segment, grew less than the company had predicted three months ago. Europe revenue increased 11.9% in constant currency on comp growth of 4%. The company had guided toward sales growth in the high teens and comps in high single digits to low double digits. Asian sales met expectations with a revenue increase of 18.5% on comps growth of 5%, excluding currency effects.

Looking ahead, CEO Victor Herrero was optimistic about sales overseas and profit improvements at home. "Overall, as I peek into the future of our Company, I believe that Europe and Asia still offer a lot of opportunity and should continue to grow double-digits next year," he stated in the press release. "I expect the profitability in the Americas to continue to benefit from our cost reduction and margin improvement initiatives."

Jim Crumly has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Copart and Guess?. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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