I hope you enjoyed our one-day swoon because the bull market is back in full force today. Today's rally wasn't so much about economic data -- because there was very little to speak of -- but more about a continued stream of better-than-expected corporate earnings, an official buyout announcement from Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN), and better U.S. debt ceiling visibility.
Although Congress and President Obama did nothing more than kick the can, the simple fact that both political parties have more time to discuss their spending cut differences and that the U.S. government now has enough money to cover its interest payments and other obligations for a few more months appeared to please investors.
PC maker Dell, mired in a multiyear business transition from computer maker to information technology company, boosted the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) after it received an official buyout tender for $13.65 per share. This marks the largest tech buyout in a long time (assuming shareholders approve the deal) and could signal a return of healthy M&A activity in the sector.
Funneling in all of that positive news, the S&P 500 finished the day higher by 15.58 points (1.04%), to close at 1,511.29. As you might expect, Dell's share price rose on the day following news of the buyout, but it wasn't among the day's three best stocks within the S&P 500.
Leading the charge higher was information technology service provider Computer Sciences (NYSE:CSC), which advanced more than 9% on the day after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results. For the quarter, the highly government-reliant IT company reported a 2.5% increase in revenue to $3.78 billion as EPS hit $0.77. Wall Street had only expected Computer Sciences to report a $0.58 profit. Furthermore, it updated its full-year EPS to a range of $2.50-$2.70, which is markedly higher than the current consensus estimate of $2.37. With margins up across all three business lines according to CEO Mike Lawrie, Computer Sciences' run may not be over just yet.
Video game developer Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is also enjoying a particularly good day, up 5.6%. The reason for the bump is an SEC filing yesterday disclosing that CEO John Riccitiello purchased 31,300 shares of stock on Feb. 1 at prices ranging between $15.73 and $16.09. It's always positive when a CEO takes a vested interest in the company he runs because it aligns his pocketbook with that of shareholders. At 15 times forward earnings, EA isn't the value it once was, but with the company closing in on $1 billion in net cash, I could see EA possibly having room to head a bit higher.
Finally, shares of Eaton (NYSE:ETN), which makes electrical and industrial equipment for trucks and planes, rose 4.9% after reporting its fourth-quarter results. For the quarter, its acquisition costs of Cooper ate into its bottom line, resulting in an adjusted $0.82 in EPS, down significantly from last year and well below the $0.93 the Street had expected. However, Eaton also forecast an 8% growth in EPS in 2013 to a range of $4.05-$4.45, which is more or less in line with expectations. Considering the many problems we're seeing in Europe and the U.S.'s dismal Q4 GDP report, things could have been much worse -- the fact that things aren't is enough to send Eaton higher.