The stock market mounted a comeback on Wednesday morning, as major market benchmarks managed to rise and claw back some of their losses from recent sessions. There are still plenty of uncertainties on Wall Street, but the ongoing flood of earnings reports is painting an optimistic picture of a brighter future. As of just before 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.23%) was up 194 points to 34,015. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.36%) gained 15 points to 4,150, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) was higher by 28 points at 13,815.
The cruise ship industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, and operators like Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -9.55%) still face an uncertain future. Nevertheless, investors were feeling more upbeat on Wednesday about its prospects for the long run. Meanwhile, oil services giant Halliburton (HAL -1.66%) gave investors some insight into what's happening in the volatile energy sector.
A vote of confidence for Norwegian
Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings were up almost 8% on Wednesday morning. Investors reacted favorably to positive comments about the cruise ship company from Wall Street analysts.
Goldman Sachs upgraded Norwegian's stock from neutral to buy late Tuesday afternoon after the market closed. It set a price target of $37 on Norwegian shares, up by $10 from its previous projection.
Goldman pointed to a number of factors that fly in the face of the popular perception that all cruise ship companies are created equal. Analysts specifically noted that Norwegian's consumers tend to have higher wealth aspirations, and the company has a smaller fleet of ships that should require smaller outlays during the current closure period. Norwegian also has relatively little leverage, giving it a greater ability to deal with sustained closures than its peers. Focusing largely on adult consumers in North America simplifies dealing with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well.
Investors have been hopeful about travel stocks, and cruise ship operators have been among the most volatile. Goldman's analyst note is a reminder not to treat all stocks in a sector equally, and it'll be interesting to see if Norwegian fares better than its foes on the seas.
Halliburton gets fired up
Elsewhere, shares of Halliburton traded lower by nearly 5% on Wednesday morning. The move came despite some optimistic views on what's happening in the energy industry.
Halliburton's results showed encouraging signs of recovery. The company saw year-over-year growth in adjusted net income, with earnings weighing in at $0.19 per share. Admittedly, revenue was still far lower than in the year-ago period, having fallen 31% since the first quarter of 2020. Sequentially, though, revenue picked up almost 7% compared to where it was three months ago.
More broadly, Halliburton sees activity levels picking up around the world. CEO Jeff Miller called the quarter an "inflection point" for international energy markets, with expectations that activity level growth will accelerate throughout the rest of 2021. Meanwhile, North America is still going through challenges but also appears to be on the path toward building more positive momentum.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Halliburton's report was that it saw strong free cash flow. With capital at such a premium, especially in the energy sector, that'll be a vital resource as Halliburton aims to go through a broader transition toward digital transformation and greater efficiency.