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Stock Market Wrap-Up: Spotify Stock Surges While Kroger Cools

By Dan Caplinger – Jun 18, 2020 at 5:15PM

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Markets remained in a holding pattern on Thursday.

The stock market was mixed on Thursday with investors waiting for more definitive signs of how the global economy will respond in the long run to the coronavirus crisis. Ongoing debate about how to proceed with reopening efforts promises to last well into the future, but market participants are trying to focus their attention on specific impacts to certain businesses. With some winners and some losers from nearly every proposed course of action, it's no surprise that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.62%), S&P 500 (^GSPC -1.72%), and Nasdaq Composite were mixed on the day.

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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

That ambivalence showed up in some of the moves among individual stocks. On one hand, Spotify Technology (SPOT -3.36%) saw its stock soar on news that it could dramatically expand its streaming music service to diversify further into podcasts. Meanwhile, Kroger (KR -1.41%) wasn't able to give investors everything they wanted to see, despite consumers' emphasis on essential goods in recent months.

Spotify books a podcast superdeal

Shares of Spotify jumped 13% as investors weighed the music streaming company's latest strategic moves. Spotify and Warner Bros. will be partners in producing and distributing narrative scripted podcasts based on characters in the DC superhero and supervillain universe. Spotify also announced a deal with celebrity Kim Kardashian West for a new podcast series.

The Warner Bros. partnership will involve several aspects. New content will show up in shows broadcast on Spotify. At the same time, Warner Bros. has a considerable amount of legacy content that it hopes to work into stand-alone podcast series as well. Listeners can look forward to shows with well-known characters like Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Joker, among many others within the full DC universe.

Meanwhile, the Kardashian deal will involve producing and hosting a crime podcast. The celebrity has recently raised awareness of prison reform issues, and the show will look at investigations of criminal cases that involve questionable practices.

Spotify has said that going beyond music to emphasize podcasts is a direction it wants to pursue further. Today's deals show just how willing Spotify is to commit to major agreements in that direction, and it'll be interesting to see the content that results from it and how large an audience it draws.

Kroger store location as seen from a parking lot.

Image source: Kroger.

When huge growth is not enough

Elsewhere, shares of Kroger closed down by 3%, recovering somewhat from losses that at times were as big as 7%. The grocery store giant reported fiscal first-quarter results that were outstanding, but they weren't enough to satisfy the high expectations of its shareholders.

Kroger posted amazing growth levels, with identical-store sales, excluding fuel, jumping 19% compared to the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings per share rose nearly 70% to $1.22 per share, and the grocery giant saw an amazing 92% rise in the amount of business it did digitally, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior.

Yet despite the big gains, Kroger chose not to affirm its past guidance or provide a new outlook for the full 2020 fiscal year. CFO Gary Millerchip cited "many unknown factors related to the long-term impact of COVID-19" that could have an impact on financial results in the months to come.

The big question surrounding Kroger is whether there will be a sales slump at some point when coronavirus fears have waned somewhat. That day might still be far off, but investors want more assurances that Kroger is doing what it can to hang onto those hard-fought gains for the grocery retail stock .

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Spotify Technology. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Kroger Co. Stock Quote
The Kroger Co.
$44.86 (-1.41%) $0.64
Spotify Stock Quote
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Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$29,590.41 (-1.62%) $-486.27
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S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,693.23 (-1.72%) $-64.76

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