After yesterday's Wall Street bloodbath in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) lost 231 points, the blue-chip index has bounced back a bit to go up 17 points as of 1 p.m. EDT. The slight rise comes even after the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index slid to a preliminary reading of 79.9 in March from 81.6 in February. Economists were expecting March's reading to hit 81.8.
One stock helping the Dow move higher this afternoon is Home Depot (HD 0.71%) as shares are up 0.8%. The move higher comes after Oppenheimer increased it price target on the stock from $86 to $93. The firm maintained its outperform rating on Home Depot, but boosted home-retail competitor Lowe's (LOW 0.37%) rating from perform to outperform and hiked its price target from $50 to $57. Oppenheimer said that with winter weather largely behind us and favorable spring conditions rolling in, sales at both companies will begin to improve.
Outside the Dow, shares of Ulta Salon (ULTA 1.91%) are up 7% after the beauty retail chain reported quarterly earnings yesterday after the closing bell. Wall Street expected revenue of $856.38 million and earnings per share of $1.07. But the company posted net sales of $868.1 million, a 14% increase from the prior year, and income of $1.09 per share, a 9.5% increase. For the year, net sales rose 20% while earnings jumped 17.5% when compared to 2012. There were not very many items to dislike in the report; it would appear the company is not only healthy, but growing at a very strong rate. Investors should continue holding on to shares.
Clothes retailer Aeropostale (AROPQ) also posted earnings in the after-hours session yesterday. In this case, ugly numbers sent the stock down more than 13%. For the quarter sales came in at $670 million, down from $797.7 million a year ago and below the $684.93 million analysts were predicting. An adjusted loss of $0.35 per share was again worse than the $0.31 per share loss Wall Street wanted to see. A number of the teen-focused retailers reported earnings this week and none offered reassuring results. Investors would be better served leaving this niche of retail alone, kind of like what customers have been doing.
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