Major benchmarks treaded water for most of the session Wednesday, but then moved up after the Federal Reserve announced a cut in interest rates. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) closed at a record high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) posted a modest gain, too. Rate-sensitive utilities led the market, but energy shares slumped.
Today's stock market
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General Electric's turnaround is taking hold
General Electric reported third-quarter results that beat expectations, sending shares up 11.5%. Revenue was flat year over year at $23.4 billion, but that was better than the 2% decline analysts were expecting. Earnings per share adjusted to exclude restructuring costs and noncash charges increased from $0.11 in Q3 last year to $0.15, beating the consensus forecast for flat growth.
GE's renewable energy unit had the highest top-line growth, with revenue rising 13% and orders up 30%, but delivered a segment loss of $98 million. Aviation was the company's most profitable business despite the headwind of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. Aviation segment profit grew 3% to $1.7 billion on an 8% increase in revenue. GE's struggling power unit continues to be a drag on the company, with a 14% decline in revenue and 30% drop in orders, but executives said on the conference call that the business is stabilizing.
GE raised its outlook for full-year industrial free cash flow by $1 billion to a range of $0 to $2 billion. A strengthening financial position and optimism about GE's core operations are among the reasons the stock is up 38% year to date.
AMD delivers solid results
Semiconductor maker AMD reported rising sales and expanding margins in the third quarter, but results were right in line with expectations, and the stock barely budged, closing up 0.3%. Revenue grew 9% to $1.8 billion, matching the company's guidance exactly. Earnings per share increased 22% to $0.11, equaling the analyst consensus estimate.
Revenue in AMD's computing and graphics segment grew 36% to $1.28 billion, driven by Ryzen CPUs for desktop PCs and mobile devices. Enterprise, embedded, and semi-custom segment revenue fell 27% to $525 million despite rising sales of EPYC server processors. Sales of semi-custom chips that go into gaming platforms dropped after the console makers announced plans for new gaming machines for the 2020 holiday season and demand for current platforms dried up. Companywide gross margin improved 3 percentage points to 43%, matching prior guidance.
Overall, the report had few surprises for investors, which explains the market's muted response.