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Stock Market News: GE, Mattel Jump on Earnings Strength

By Dan Caplinger - Oct 30, 2019 at 10:42AM

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The market was on eggshells Wednesday morning waiting for the Fed.

Major benchmarks didn't make big moves on Wednesday morning, as most investors had their eyes squarely focused on the Federal Reserve. Most expect another interest rate cut from the central bank when its two-day meeting ends this afternoon. As of 11:15 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.18%) was down 8 points to 27,064. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.43%) fell 2 points to 3,035, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) was lower by 6 points to 8,271.

High-profile earnings reports kept coming in and sent individual stocks in different directions, but there were a couple big winners. General Electric (GE -0.33%) had a solid report that led to substantial gains in its stock price. Meanwhile, Mattel (MAT -0.18%) also made investors happy with its progress, despite having some continuing challenges.

GE lights it up

Shares of General Electric jumped more than 12% Wednesday morning after the industrial conglomerate reported strong third-quarter financial results. Despite seeing flat revenue and falling order inflows compared to year-ago levels, GE's adjusted earnings were significantly better than expected.

Wind turbine with GE logo on it, under a cloudy sky.

Image source: Getty Images.

Much of the GE report centered on the performance of the company's industrial segment. Organic revenue for the segment climbed 7% year over year, and profit margin improved by 1.5 percentage points to 10%. The industrial unit provided $650 million in free cash flow, and GE now believes that the segment could see as much as $2 billion from that metric for the full year.

General Electric highlighted the transformative efforts the conglomerate has made. Sales of various units and stakes in businesses generated billions in available cash, and GE has worked hard to lower its leverage in an effort to demonstrate its financial stability. CEO Larry Culp noted that "we are encouraged by our strong backlog, organic growth, margin expansion, and positive cash trajectory amid global macro uncertainty" even given "external headwinds from the 737 MAX and tariffs."

Investors have worried about GE's ability to keep up in a rapidly evolving industry. The company has more to do, but shareholders are celebrating the progress General Electric has already made and hope for more down the road.

Mattel wins the game

Meanwhile, shares of Mattel soared 18%. The toy maker reported extremely strong third-quarter financial results that allayed some investor fears about the state of the industry.

Fundamentally, Mattel held up pretty well. Revenue was up 3% year over year, and net income soared more than tenfold from a very low number in the year-ago period. Certain categories did especially well, with vehicles, action figures, building sets, and games seeing double-digit gains in segment sales. The key doll category saw a 5% rise in sales, with Barbie jumping 10% from year-ago levels.

However, not all the news was good. Mattel's infant, toddler, and preschool category saw sales fall 11%, with weakness in Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends contributing to the declines. Even so, the company also benefited from the favorable conclusion of an investigation into its accounting practices, although it also announced the departure of CFO Joseph Euteneuer following a six-month transition period.

Many had feared that Mattel would face challenges that peers have run into, with tariffs adding to cost concerns. Yet with efforts to keep costs under control, shareholders seem pleased with the work Mattel is doing to keep itself moving forward.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

General Electric Company Stock Quote
General Electric Company
$74.93 (-0.33%) $0.25
Mattel, Inc. Stock Quote
Mattel, Inc.
$22.55 (-0.18%) $0.04
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$32,774.41 (-0.18%) $-58.13
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$4,122.47 (-0.43%) $-17.59
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$12,644.46 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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