Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
OK, go ahead and call it a comeback, because today marks the sixth consecutive day that the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) has headed higher following a dismal August.
With a veritable firing squad of economic data on tap for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday -- including PPI, weekly initial jobless claims, U.S. retail sales, the U.S. Treasury budget for August, and preliminary Michigan consumer sentiment figures for September -- the market took a breather today from purely economic news to instead focus on Syria. The surprise was that the news was good.
Comments made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday appear to have opened the door to a non-militaristic solution in Syria, which would certainly please investors here and calm our trading partners abroad. Although still in the discussion phase, if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hands over his chemical weapons within a week, a war may be averted. While war does wonders for the defense sector, the negative effects it can have on energy prices and other industries of the economy reliant on government spending can be disastrous.
On the heels of this encouraging news, the S&P 500 shot higher by 12.28 points (0.73%) to close at 1,683.99.
Shares of streaming content provider Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) completed its turnaround today, rising 6.4% to take out its previous all-time high set back in 2011 despite a lack of big news. The prime story pushing it higher, other than the euphoria of traders who were likely thrilled to see it breach $300 a share, was a comment made yesterday by activist investing billionaire Carl Icahn that his fund still owns share of Netflix. Obviously, Icahn's continued ownership can be viewed as a boost for Netflix shares, especially given that Icahn, just this week, gave up in his quest to obtain a higher bid for PC maker Dell. However, being as value-minded as I am, I can't help feeling that at 88 times forward earnings, and with basically no positive free cash flow, Netflix has gotten way ahead of itself again.
Shares of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) added 4.9% on the day, after yesterday unveiling a new line of embedded chips designed to run such devices as slot machines, medical equipment, and automated factory robots. AMD is forecasting that its embedded chips should account for about a fifth of revenue by the end of the year as it further looks to diversify its product line away from struggling PC and notebook sales. As I've noted previously, AMD's turnaround is ongoing and there will be hiccups, but with profitability expected in the upcoming quarter, now could be the time to give AMD a serious look.
Finally, branded- and generic-drug maker Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) showed why one company's pain -- in this case, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) -- is another's gain by advancing 4.8%. The reason for the move relates to the Food and Drug Administration's release of a seven-page document yesterday outlining what tests would need to be conducted to bring a generic version of Glaxo's blockbuster asthma treatment Advair to market. Advair's patent expired three years ago, but no generics have emerged with the FDA failing to outline what tests a generic-drug maker would need to do to gain approval. With those guidelines now in place, Mylan is seen as a front-runner to have its generic to market within three or four years.
Mylan also enjoyed an upgrade today to "outperform" from "market perform" at research firm Bernstein, which also boosted its price target to $44 from $35 on the news. Generic-drugmakers have an endless sea of opportunities thanks to the finite length of time branded drugs stay on patent, which makes Mylan a name you should always be watching.