Stocks were mixed Monday in low-volume trading, with the broader indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.27%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 1.73%) moving up in the afternoon, but the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite falling 0.38%.
Today's stock market
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Strength in energy stocks boosted the market, with the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP 0.92%) up 2.8%. Large-cap technology shares fell; the First Trust Dow Jones Internet ETF (FDN 2.20%) lost 1%.
As for individual stocks, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 1.66%) (BRK.B 1.71%) rose on a strong quarter and the resumption of share repurchases, and Sysco Corporation (SYY 3.05%) fell after reporting earnings.
Warren Buffett resumes share buybacks
Shares of Berkshire Hathaway rose 4.7% after Warren Buffett's industrial and financial conglomerate reported third-quarter results over the weekend that included strong gains in operating earnings and revealed that the company has resumed share buybacks. Net earnings per equivalent Class B share more than quadrupled to $7.52, but that figure includes unrealized investment gains. The better measure of the performance of Berkshire's businesses is operating earnings, which doubled to $6.88 billion, partly because results in Q3 of last year were affected by losses in its insurance business due to hurricanes.
Investors were also responding to news that Berkshire bought back $928 million worth of the company's stock between Aug. 7 and Aug. 24, the first share repurchase since 2012. Buffett is authorized to buy back an unlimited number of Berkshire shares as long as he believes the stock is below the intrinsic value of the company, and the resumption of buybacks at the end of the quarter may indicate the buying could continue, with the first billion being the tip of the iceberg.
Sysco misses estimates, sees rising costs
Food distributor Sysco reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that missed expectations and shares were pounded, falling 9.4%. Sales increased 3.9% to $15.2 billion and adjusted earnings per share jumped 17.4% to $0.91. Analysts were expecting earnings of $0.92 per share on sales of $15.4 billion.
Rising costs were cited as a concern. "We continue to see expense challenges in the warehouse and transportation areas of our supply chain, which we anticipate will persist," said CEO Tom Bene in the press release. Operating expenses increased 5.8%, faster than sales gains.
There was good news as well, with U.S. broadline case growth up 5.7%, compared with 0.3% in Q1 last year. But transportation cost inflation is a recurring theme for stocks this year, and that has investors worried.