The stock market largely gained ground on Friday, although triple-digit gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were offset somewhat by modest losses in the Nasdaq Composite. European Union tariffs were set to take effect today on more than $3 billion in U.S. goods, representing the latest escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and trade partners across the globe. Yet investors were ready for a break after several days of poor performance for the overall market, and good news from several companies helped set a positive mood on Wall Street. Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), WillScot (NASDAQ: WSC), and Del Taco Restaurants (NASDAQ:TACO) were among the best performers on the day. Here's why they did so well.
Marathon looks energetic
Shares of Marathon Oil climbed 8% on a great day for the energy markets. Crude oil prices surged by more than $3 per barrel on Friday, pushing West Texas Intermediate prices to the $69-per-barrel level. Energy traders were pleased that although the OPEC oil cartel agreed as expected to increase their production targets, the boost wasn't as large as many had anticipated. For Marathon, the ability to profit even with oil at lower levels bodes well for the future. Even if higher production from OPEC leads to a pause in the recent ascent for crude over the past year, Marathon will be well-positioned to outperform its rivals and gain a competitive advantage.
WillScot makes a purchase
WillScot stock soared 25% after the portable storage and modular space rental specialist agreed to purchase a peer. The parent company of Williams Scotsman will purchase privately held Modular Space Holdings, with payment to include $1.06 billion in cash, about 6.46 million shares of WillScot stock, and warrants to purchase 10 million more WillScot shares at $15.50 per share. The deal assigns about a $1.1 billion enterprise value to Modular Space Holdings and gives WillScot a chance to double the size of its business, adding office trailers to its mix and creating the opportunity for synergy-related cost savings. The deal's expected to close in the third quarter, and shareholders should see additions to earnings by 2019. The portable storage industry has seen challenges lately, but investors are hopeful that WillScot is moving in the right direction.
Del Taco spices things up
Finally, shares of Del Taco Restaurants gained 7%. The fast-food Mexican restaurant chain said yesterday that it would take steps to reinvigorate its brand, with a strategy that includes new packaging, store design, food equipment, and uniforms to go with a theme that highlights freshness and customized preparation. The new Del Taco tag line will be "Fresh Mexican Grill," which is a direct assault on Chipotle Mexican Grill's previous dominance of the high-quality ingredient concept. It'll be tough for Del Taco to thread the needle between the perceived quality of Chipotle and the value of down-market alternative Taco Bell, but Del Taco seems confident that it can offer both while still being profitable.