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The Federal Reserve has been a key driver of the bull market in stocks ever since 2009, with its accommodative monetary policy helping to stimulate economic growth and pushing many investors into the stock market. Yet, today's minutes from the most recent Fed meeting didn't produce a positive response from stock investors despite their dovish tone, leaving unanswered the question of exactly how quickly future tapering could occur. Still, even though the Dow fell, Forest Labs (UNKNOWN:FRX.DL), Apollo Education Group (NASDAQ:APOL), and TASER International (NASDAQ:AAXN) all posted double-digit percentage gains due to favorable company-specific news.
Forest Labs climbed 18% on news that the drug company would buy drug-developer Aptalis from private-equity firm TPG Capital for $2.9 billion. The deal gives Forest Labs greater exposure to the cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal-disorder markets, building up its pipeline at a critical time during which the company is facing the loss of patent protection on a major blockbuster Alzheimer's drug. Ordinarily, acquiring companies see their shares drop after a buyout, but Forest Labs says that the acquisition will actually add to its earnings immediately, suggesting that the company got a very good deal in negotiating the price.
Apollo Education rose 14% following its quarterly report last night. As expected, the for-profit educational company reported that overall enrollment at its University of Phoenix fell 18%, with new-student enrollment down 23%. But better-than-expected adjusted net income, and a $50 million increase in the company's guidance for fiscal 2014 revenue, pointed to the idea that the worst might be over for Apollo and the for-profit education industry. After years of scrutiny, investors hope that Apollo and its peers can climb higher from current levels.
TASER gained 13% after announcing that more than a dozen customers made substantial orders for new weapon products, including police departments in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and California's Inland Empire. In addition, departments in other areas, including New York City and New Orleans, added or upgraded their existing TASER arsenals. With law enforcement officials looking for nonlethal ways to perform their duties, TASER appears to be cashing in on the opportunity it has to deliver what police departments want.
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