The stock market moved sharply higher on Wednesday morning, benefiting from some favorable earnings reports and responding to hopes that reopened businesses will get the economy moving again. Promising news from Gilead Sciences (GILD -0.76%) in its efforts to come up with a coronavirus treatment also buoyed investor sentiment. Just before 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.15%) was up 499 points to 24,600. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -1.02%) rose 68 points to 2,932, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) moved higher by 260 points to 8,868.
Among the companies that delighted their shareholders with their quarterly financial reports were Mastercard (MA -1.48%) and Alphabet (GOOGL -0.01%) (GOOG 0.02%). The two major players in finance and technology weren't immune to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, but they're taking steps to ensure a more prosperous future.
Mastercard's shares rose almost 7% Wednesday morning as investors reacted to its first-quarter financial results. The card giant saw definite signs of weaker growth due to lockdowns and other health measures, but several encouraging figures pointed the way toward a happier future.
Mastercard was able to keep its top line moving upward, as revenue for the period rose 3% from last year's first quarter. After accounting for various one-time items, adjusted earnings also picked up ground, with Mastercard's $1.83 per share comparing favorably to last year's $1.78 per share. Gross dollar volume was up 8% on a 13% rise in transactions. Even a rise in operating expenses wasn't able to hold the card company back.
Shareholders were pleased to see Mastercard's game plan for moving forward. The company is emphasizing many of the same areas it always has, including a strong balance sheet, long-term growth, improved capital structuring, and returning capital to shareholders. The stock continues to pay its dividend, although Mastercard has suspended its stock buyback program during the coronavirus crisis.
Even more encouraging were Mastercard's comments about spending levels. The payments specialist sees signs of stabilization. Despite current weakness in cross-border payments, investors are looking at a return to more normal conditions in the long run, and that's bolstering confidence in Mastercard's position.
The ABCs of a solid quarter
Elsewhere, shares of Alphabet were up 9%. Even though the tech giant didn't manage to meet all of the expectations of its shareholder, optimism about a key aspect of its business drove the stock higher.
Alphabet saw a large impact from the coronavirus crisis in its bottom line, with adjusted earnings per share falling 17% year over year. That was a more significant decline than most had anticipated, with declines in adjusted operating income reflecting sizable cost increases.
Yet revenue at Alphabet jumped 13%, which was faster than expected. In particular, advertising revenue from the Google segment was up more than 10% year over year, and cloud revenue soared more than 50% from last year's figure.
The big question Alphabet still has to answer is whether ad revenue will take a hit in the second quarter, when lockdowns and other measures really started to take hold. Executives noted that ad sales slowed in March and warned that the second quarter could be weaker. Yet even the numbers from that latter part of the period didn't seem as bad as many had feared. If the economy bounces back, then the tech stock giant will be in a prime position to benefit from it.