Investors enjoyed modest gains on Wall Street to start the new week, with the markets reacting favorably to a lack of news on the geopolitical front. Some had feared that relations between the U.S. and China could start fraying once again amid heightened rhetoric, but things stayed quiet over the weekend, and market participants liked that. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI), S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), and Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) were all up in the neighborhood of half a percent.

Today's stock market


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Some big-name stocks made news today, but flying under the radar were a couple of companies that saw even bigger gains. Amyris (NASDAQ:AMRS) and Coty (NYSE:COTY) aren't household names, but they made their shareholders a lot happier today.

Could Amyris be the comeback stock of the 2020s?

Amyris saw its stock soar 43% on Monday, sending the industrial biotechnology company's shares to their best levels since 2018. Unlike most biotech stocks making the list of companies hitting new highs, Amyris doesn't have a COVID-19 vaccine or test to explain the move, but investors see a lot of potential from the company nevertheless.

Amyris engineers and synthesizes specialty products for use in the health and wellness, beauty, and flavor and fragrance markets. With microbial engineering and screening technologies, Amyris has some investors excited about the wide range of applications for which the company could use its expertise. That includes some hot investing areas, like cannabis. Some have even compared the company to highflyers in unrelated industries.

Cup containing purple liquid and ice, with text on the side.

Image source: Amyris.

However, it's important to put today's jump in context. Amyris traded above $30 per share as recently as 2015, in contrast to its $5.35 share price currently. Some investors are likely still nervous about the company following its 2018 restatement of multiple years of financial statements. Even so, there are enough good things going on here to keep an eye on Amyris -- even if jumping in head first might be premature.

Coty makes strategic moves

In other turnaround news, luxury goods manufacturer Coty made some big announcements today. The company named a new leader, and it will sell off a big part of its hair products business in an effort to focus on core businesses.

In what it called a "strategic transformation," Coty entered into an agreement with private equity company KKR to purchase a 60% interest in Coty's professional and retail hair business, which includes well-known brands like Wella and Clairol. Coty will retain the remaining 40% and expects to reap about $2.5 billion in net cash proceeds when the deal closes.

In addition, KKR will invest an additional $1 billion into Coty in exchange for preferred stock. KKR will put two of its people on the Coty board to provide "meaningful resources" and "experienced investors" to help Coty in its transformation.

Going forward, Coty Founder and Board Chairman Peter Harf will take on the additional role of CEO. The company praised Harf's entrepreneurial spirit, and he will work with Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Andre Terisse and new Chief Transformation Officer and KKR veteran Gordon von Bretten as part of a three-person executive committee.

With the retail industry going through tough times, smart strategic moves like this are a necessity. Coty is doing the right thing, and investors hope that the stock will maintain upward momentum for a long time to come.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.