The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.45%) was up again on Wednesday, despite a backdrop of a continuing pandemic, elevated unemployment, and widespread civil unrest in major U.S. cities. The Dow was up about 1.5% at 1:20 p.m. EDT.
Boeing (BA 0.28%) was the Dow's star performer, soaring after rumors emerged that an activist investor has taken a major stake. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL 0.63%) stock was treading water even after a price-target boost from an analyst.
Boeing soars on activist-investor rumors
Shares of airplane manufacturer and defense company Boeing were up about 9.7% by early afternoon Wednesday following a rumor that hedge fund Third Point had taken a significant stake. Boeing stock has been hammered over the past few months as the pandemic decimated demand for air travel and upended the airline industry.
While shares of Boeing are down about 57% from their 52-week high, the stock has nearly doubled since bottoming out in March. If the rumors are true, Third Point likely believes that the stock could continue to rally.
The problems facing Boeing are immense. Prior to the pandemic, the grounding of the 737 Max following two fatal crashes did a number on Boeing's financials. The situation has only gotten worse now that airlines are fighting to survive the pandemic-driven slump in demand. In the first quarter of this year, Boeing delivered just 50 commercial airplanes, down 66%. Free cash flow was a loss of $4.7 billion.
Boeing recently raised $25 billion by selling new debt and is working to slash costs. The company reportedly began involuntary layoffs late last month, affecting nearly 7,000 employees, and production is being slashed for certain planes.
It may take years for the airline industry and Boeing to fully recover, and Boeing will likely emerge from this crisis weighed down by additional debt. The stock could certainly bounce back more quickly than that, but patience will be required for anyone looking to invest in this industrial giant.
Apple upgraded on App Store strength
While the iPhone is the most important source of revenue for Apple, the App Store helps drive growth in the company's fast-growing services business. Morgan Stanley estimates that App Store revenue has jumped 35% on a year-over-year basis for the first two months of Apple's current quarter, a good enough performance to prompt a price-target bump.
Morgan Stanley raised its price target on Apple stock from $326 to $340, saying that high levels of engagement that drove App Store spending during the worst of the pandemic have persisted. The investment bank expects App Store revenue to rise 32% in Apple's current quarter, even factoring in an expected slowdown in June. This growth will drive 16.7% growth in the broader services segment, according to Morgan Stanley's estimates.
This App Store momentum is expected to continue past the current quarter, with Morgan Stanley predicting that higher App Store growth rates will help drive a 16.9% rise in services revenue for fiscal 2020 and a 17.8% rise in services revenue for fiscal 2021.
Shares of Apple were up about 0.1% by early Wednesday afternoon. The stock is just a few dollars below its 52-week high.