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Why First Solar, Veracyte, and KB Home Jumped Today

By Dan Caplinger – Mar 19, 2014 at 2:00PM

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Stocks plunged Wednesday after Fed Chair Janet Yellen surprised the market with hints of a sooner-than-expected rate increase, but these stocks still posted strong gains. Find out more about what made these stocks soar.

Most investors believed that the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting today would prove to be a non-event. But while the continuation of the Fed taper didn't surprise anyone, Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments during the subsequent press conference threw markets for a loop, with hints that the Fed could raise interest rates sooner after the end of quantitative easing than investors had expected. That send the Dow down triple digits, but it didn't stop solid advances for First Solar (FSLR -0.46%), Veracyte (VCYT -0.27%), or KB Home (KBH -0.79%).

First Solar soared more than 20% after the solar giant gave positive guidance for revenue during the current year and for better profits in 2015 and 2016 than investors were expecting. Interestingly, First Solar's revenue guidance doesn't call for guaranteed fast growth, with ranges of $3.7 billion to $4 billion this year, $3.8 billion to $4.3 billion in 2015, and $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion in 2016. But even though some analysts have argued that First Solar's operating expenses could keep profit margins down and hold back earnings growth, First Solar's projections for earnings to rise to as much as $5 per share by 2016 are quite optimistic compared to the consensus of analysts. With so much competition in the solar industry and with First Solar largely shut out of the fast-growing residential-solar segment, the company will need to see favorable trends continue in order to reach its lofty goals.

Veracyte climbed 8%, as the biotech diagnostics company released earnings last night. Revenue climbed 53% from year ago levels, with its Afirma Thyroid FNA Analysts and Afirma Gene Expression Classifier products gaining traction in the diagnostics marketplace. Specifically, as Veracyte has gotten more health insurance companies to provide coverage for expenses related to its products, it has seen greater adoption of those products among physicians. Still, with the company having jumped more than 40% since its first-day close after its October 2013 IPO, Veracyte still has a lot of growing to do before it can convince some skeptical investors that it has staying power in the highly competitive health-care niche. But with revenue guidance for 2014 that could almost double 2013's figures, Veracyte's growth potential is extensive.

KB Home rose almost 6% after this morning's earnings report from the homebuilder defied some forecasts for a weak season. KB Home reversed a year-ago loss with a profit of $0.12 per share, which is unusual for this particular season of the year, as revenue jumped 11% on an 18% rise in net orders and 21% gains in backlogs. Tight markets for available land have sent average home prices soaring, with KB Home reporting averages of more than $305,000, up 12% from last year's levels. The good news pulled peer Lennar (LEN -1.50%) up as well, and with Lennar reporting its earnings tomorrow, investors should soon see whether KB Home's positive results were a fluke or an indication of widespread strength in housing.

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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