Stocks rose Wednesday after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting implied a reluctance to raise rates this year and consumer prices indicated inflation remains under control. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.29%) was roughly flat and the S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.78%) rose, with gainers outnumbering losers by more than 2 to 1.

Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow 0.03% 6.58
S&P 500 0.35% 10.01

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

As for individual stocks, Levi Strauss (LEVI -0.76%) reported strong growth, and Delta Air Lines (DAL -1.84%) gave an upbeat outlook for the year.

Montage of colorful upward graphs.

Image source: Getty Images.

Levi Strauss gets off on the right foot with investors

Investors may have been a bit unsure what to expect when Levi Strauss reported results for the first time since going public last month, but they liked what they saw, and the stock rose 4%. Revenue grew 6.8%, or 11% in constant currency, to $1.44 billion. The company earned $0.37 per share, compared with a loss of $0.05 per share in the period a year ago.

Of the 11 percentage points of revenue growth excluding currency, 5 points came from the Americas, 3 points came from Europe, and 3 points came from Asia. By channel, 5 points of growth came from wholesale, 4 points came from company-operated stores, and e-commerce contributed 2 points. Sales of tops and women's clothes fueled the gains, delivering 8 points of the overall company sales growth compared to 3 for men's bottoms.

Gross margin fell from 54.9% to 54.6%, but that includes 90 basis points of currency headwinds. Operating margin improved 1 percentage point.

The broad-based nature of the sales gains and improving margins had investors cheering today.

Strong results and positive outlook boost Delta

Delta Airlines beat profit expectations for the first quarter and gave an upbeat outlook for Q2, and shares rose 1.6%. Total revenue adjusted to exclude refinery sales grew 7.5% to $10.4 billion, and adjusted earnings per share increased 28% to $0.96, well above the $0.89 per share analysts were expecting. 

The airline released key operating metrics last week, boosting the stock on news that the company's performance would exceed earlier guidance, but the details released today were even better. Adjusted total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) grew 2.4%, compared with last quarter's guidance of flat to 2% and last week's update of 2%. Adjusted cost per available seat mile (CASM) had been expected to grow 1% to 2%, was estimated to be flat to up 0.5% last week, and came in down 0.2%.

Revenue from the airline's loyalty program with partner American Express soared 37% to $474 million. Delta, which moved into the top spot in the Airline Quality Rankings for 2018, raised full-year revenue growth guidance to 5% to 7%.