Stocks wavered Tuesday as investors looked for encouraging signs on trade in a speech by President Trump. Major benchmarks were higher in the morning but slumped in the afternoon, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) closing exactly flat and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) posting a small gain.
Today's stock market
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Strong home sales boost D.R. Horton
Shares of D.R. Horton hit a record high, rising 3.1% after the homebuilder reported better-than-expected results for the fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue grew 12% to $5.04 billion and earnings per share rose 11% to $1.35. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.25 on revenue of $4.86 billion.
The largest homebuilder in the U.S. closed on 16,024 new homes in Q4, up 9% from the period a year earlier, the value of those homes increased 10%. Strong orders in the quarter point to momentum going into the new year, with home orders rising 14% compared with order growth of 11% in the period a year ago, and the value of the orders growing 16% year over year.
Analysts on the conference call seemed to think that D.R. Horton's guidance for 2020 home closings and cash flow was conservative given the strong results in 2019, but company officials expressed optimism for continued demand, a view that lifted other homebuilding stocks today.
Investors cheer plans by DXC Technology
Shares of DXC Technology, an IT services company that was formed by the 2017 merger of CSC and the enterprise services division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, soared 19.9% after the company reported disappointing quarterly results but announced plans to sell off businesses and simplify its structure.
The company's top and bottom lines both fell in its fiscal second quarter, with revenue down 3.2% to $4.85 billion and non-GAAP EPS plunging 32% to $1.38. Both were bigger declines than analysts were expecting. DXC also slashed full-year EPS guidance by 25% to a range of $5.25 to $5.75.
CEO Mike Salvino has only been on the job for two months but hasn't wasted any time in deciding how to fix the struggling company. Salvino plans to sell off three of DXC's non-strategic businesses that currently deliver 25% of its revenue. The company expects the move to increase EPS to above $7.00 by 2022, reduce debt by $2.5 billion, and allow DXC to return $4.25 billion to shareholders, or about half the company's market capitalization.
DXC's shares are still down 33% in a good year for tech stocks even after today's move, but investors were clearly heartened by the decisive action.