U.S. stocks climbed on Tuesday, rebounding from Monday's particularly rough session amid lingering concerns over slowing global economic growth. Though the market's strength waned in the afternoon, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) managed to close in the green.
Today's stock market
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Tech stocks led the way higher, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLK) up 0.8%. But oil stocks continued to slide as crude prices plunged over worries about economic growth and a glut in supply, leaving the SPDR Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEMKT:XOP) down another 2.8%.
As for individual stocks, Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) jumped on encouraging earnings news, while Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) rallied after reaffirming its outlook and announcing a big new share repurchase plan.
Darden's delicious quarter
Shares of Darden Restaurants climbed 5% after the parent company of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse announced strong fiscal second-quarter 2019 results and increased its full-year outlook.
Darden's quarterly sales climbed 4.9% to $1.973 billion, thanks to a combination of 40 net new restaurants and a 2.1% sales increase in locations open at least 12 months. That translated into a 26% jump in adjusted earnings to $115.9 million, or $0.92 per share. Analysts, on average, were anticipating earnings of $0.91 per share on roughly the same revenue.
"We continued to grow market share profitably by strengthening and leveraging our competitive advantages," stated CEO Gene Lee, "and our brands are making the appropriate investments while managing costs effectively."
For the full fiscal year, Darden now expects same-restaurant sales growth of roughly 2.5%, with earnings from continuing operations between $5.60 and $5.70 per share. Both targets mark improvements from Darden's previous guidance provided in September, which called for same-restaurant sales growth of 2% to 2.5% and earnings of $5.52 to $5.65 per share.
Johnson & Johnson's big buyback
Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose as much as 3% early in the session, then settled to close up 1% after the company reaffirmed its full-year outlook and announced its board has authorized a new $5 billion stock repurchase plan.
On the former, J&J continues to expect full-year 2018 sales of $81.0 billion to $81.4 billion and earnings of $8.13 to $8.18 per share. And on the latter, company Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky noted management now believes "the company's shares are an attractive investment opportunity."
For perspective, J&J is still reeling from a Reuters report last Friday alleging that it "knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder."
Johnson & Johnson, for its part, promptly issued a statement calling the report "one-sided, false, and inflammatory," adding, "Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos."
But today's news is a more tangible step toward reassuring investors that not only is the company willing to put its money where its mouth is, but also that the recent bad publicity is not affecting its top or bottom lines.