Stocks seesawed in volatile trading Thursday, but ended the session in positive territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) swung more than 500 points and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^SPX) closed up over a percentage point.
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A rebound in technology stocks helped the market; the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLK) closed up 2.5%. Homebuilding stocks continued their recent decline, with the iShares US Home Construction ETF (NYSEMKT:ITB) losing 2.2%.
Walmart sees strong sales gains in stores and online
Walmart reported third-quarter results that beat expectations for profit, thanks to growth in comparable-store sales in the U.S. and rapid expansion of its e-commerce business, but shares fell 2%. Revenue increased 1.4% to $124.9 billion, which was slightly below analyst estimates, but excluding currency effects, the growth was 2.4%, above the analyst consensus. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.08, well above expectations of $1.01.
Comparable-store sales in the U.S. excluding fuel grew 3.2% and are up 6.1% over the period two years ago. Store traffic increased 1.2% and the average ticket was up 2.2%. International sales were up 1.6% excluding currency, and e-commerce sales grew 43%. Gross margin declined 21 basis points, however, due to "price investments in certain markets, increased transportation costs, and the margin mix effects from eCommerce growth."
Walmart raised its full-year guidance, supporting a view that consumer spending is healthy heading into the holidays and the company's initiatives are paying off, but the drop in margins raised some concerns with analysts on the conference call.
Cisco results calm tariff concerns
Cisco Systems reported fiscal first-quarter results that beat expectations and eased investor worries about the impact of tariffs, boosting the stock 5.5%. Revenue increased 7.7% to $13.07 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share grew 23% to $0.75. Analysts were expecting Cisco to earn $0.72 per share on revenue of $12.86 billion.
Cisco said the growth was broad-based across all of geographies, product categories, and customer segments. Non-GAAP net income grew 13.7%, and the big jump in EPS was helped by an aggressive share buyback program. The company spent $5 billion on share repurchases in the quarter, and the share count is down 7.6% from the period a year ago.
Investors had been worried that tariffs would impact Cisco's results, since the latest U.S. tariffs imposed on goods from China included some of the company's products, leading it to raise prices on some of them by 15%. CEO Chuck Robbins said on the conference call that the effect of tariffs have been immaterial and that the company didn't see a demand change from the price increases.