Wednesday was a good day for the stock market, with major indexes climbing on optimism surrounding the beginning of earnings season. Investors were also pleased with news overseas, as the British House of Commons rejected a vote of no confidence that would have led to the ouster of Prime Minister Theresa May. Many of the companies reporting strong earnings saw big moves higher, and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), First Data (NYSE:FDC), and United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.
Bank of America sees record profits
Shares of Bank of America were higher by 7% after the banking giant reported its fourth-quarter financial results. The bank posted record earnings for the quarter, continuing to benefit from lower corporate tax rates. B of A also managed to cut its noninterest expenses, building up a more efficient business that saw contributions from consumer banking, global banking, wealth and investment management, and the bank's global markets segment. With positive comments from CEO Brian Moynihan, Bank of America dispelled many of the fears that investors had about the financial sector coming into earnings season.
First Data gets a sweet deal
First Data's stock jumped 21% in the wake of the financial technology company receiving a buyout bid from an industry peer. Fiserv (NASDAQ:FISV) offered an all-stock deal worth $22 billion to take over First Data, with investors set to receive 0.303 Fiserv shares for every First Data share they own. The strategic move creates a giant in the payments and financial services business, with a host of capabilities including digital banking, card issuer processing, e-commerce, and cloud-based point of sale solutions. With competition getting fiercer in the payments space, the deal puts the combined company into a leadership role and gives First Data shareholders the choice to keep participating in the post-merger entity's future success.
United Natural stays hungry
Finally, shares of United Natural Foods soared 28%. The natural foods specialist updated its financial guidance for fiscal 2019, saying that it now expects to see adjusted earnings of between $1.69 and $1.89 per share. That figure was well above what most of those following United Natural had expected, and sales projections for between $21.5 billion and $22 billion for the year were similarly upbeat. Given that United Natural has gone through some challenges in past quarters, the early good news was particularly pleasing for shareholders in the natural and organic food company.