It was yet another day of mixed economic data for the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), which tugged and pulled the broad-based index to a fresh all-time high.
Adding the most fuel to the fire today was the weekly initial jobless claims report, which showed a decline of 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000. Lower weekly initial jobless claims are good news for the market because it signals that the unemployment rate, which currently sits at 6.6%, could continue to fall.
On the other hand, factory orders dipped 0.7% in January, and fourth-quarter productivity added 1.8%, which were both well below estimates. January's factory orders shortfall can be easily blamed on the cold weather blanketing much of the country, but the Q4 productivity miss compared to the Street's estimates is a bit concerning.
Despite this mixed data, the S&P 500 still managed to hold its gains throughout the day and finished higher by 3.22 points (0.17%) to close at 1,877.03.
Topping the list of gainers today was video and pixel semiconductor and software developer Pixelworks (NASDAQ:PXLW), which soared 87.5% after disclosing in a regulatory filing last night that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and NEC Corp. each represented more than 10% of its revenue in 2013. Pixelworks notes that improvements in Apple's retina display have allowed for higher pixel resolution in its mobile devices, which could wind up further enhancing the need for Pixelworks' products. However, considering that Pixelworks ended fiscal 2013 in the red, it might be best to hold off on chasing its shares higher, and wait for its bottom line to catch up.
Shares of Energy Recovery (NASDAQ:ERII), a company that markets recovery energy devices that harness reusable energy from industrial fluid flows and pressure cycles, gained 36.6% after it reported much better-than-expected fourth-quarter results after the closing bell last night. For the quarter, Energy Recovery reported revenue of $23.2 million, up 54% from the year-ago quarter, as it reversed a small year-ago loss into a $0.13 per-share profit. By comparison, Wall Street had only been expecting the company to report $19.8 million in revenue and $0.08 in EPS. This also marked the third consecutive quarter that Energy Recovery delivered gross margin at or above 60%. Energy Recovery has done an excellent job of controlling its expenses while also aggressively improving its product line, and it's beginning to show in its results. I would venture a guess that there could still be further upside in its shares even after today's leap.
Finally, shares of Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AGIO) skyrocketed 26.2% after reporting its fourth-quarter results. For the quarter, Agios reported $6.7 million in amortized collaboration revenue, up modestly from the $6.3 million reported in the year-ago period, as its net loss more than doubled, to $12.4 million, or $0.40 per share, from the $5.3 million it reported during this quarter last year. As my Foolish colleague Alex Planes pointed out, Agios' revenue topped estimates, while its EPS loss was $0.06 worse than expected. What really appears to be stirring the pot today is the announcement that it will be reporting data from the dose escalation portion of its phase 1 study of AG-221, a cancer therapy targeted at patients with the IDH2 mutation, in early April at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting. As a wholly clinical-stage company, Agios has a lot riding on AG-221 if it hopes to get off on the right foot with investors. As for me, I'd suggest holding that optimism until after its AACR presentation.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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