Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Stock Market Today: A Fired Software CEO and a Jeweler’s Gleaming Profit

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos – Mar 21, 2014 at 3:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Why Symantec, Tiffany, and Darden Restaurants stocks are on the move today.

Look for a positive start to the stock market today: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.26%) has gained a moderate 25 points in pre-market trading. World markets booked solid gains overnight, with European stocks on pace to close their strongest week of the year.

The U.S. economic calendar is light today, but investors will be hearing a lot from the Federal Reserve. Four members of the central bank's rate-setting body are due to give speeches throughout the afternoon, and those talks should provide more clarity on the Fed's changing timetable for hiking interest rates.

Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including Symantec (GEN 2.27%), Tiffany (TIF), and Darden Restaurants (DRI 0.83%).

Symantec shares were down 10% in pre-market trading after the antivirus software provider last night announced that it had fired CEO Steve Bennett and replaced him with an interim leader. Bennett took the CEO spot in July 2012, but the company's board of directors has been disappointed by the lack of progress in product innovation and revenue growth since then, according to the The Wall Street Journal. Efforts to turn around the business also haven't paid off for shareholders: Symantec's stock is down by 15% over the last year, while the broader market has risen by 20%. In announcing the CEO change, the company also affirmed its outlook for the current quarter, which calls for sales to fall by roughly 8%.      

Tiffany today announced results for its fourth quarter which included a 5% sales improvement to $1.3 billion. The jewelry maker also booked adjusted profit of $1.47 a share, which was only slightly below Wall Street's estimate of $1.52. Other good news included an uptick in profitability as gross margin rose by 1.4 percentage points to hit 60.5% of sales. However, investors may be a bit concerned with Tiffany's light profit guidance for 2014, which calls for earnings of $4.10 a share, below the $4.28 that analysts were targeting. Tiffany's stock was down nearly 2% in pre-market trading.

Finally, Darden Restaurants today booked a brutal 20% dip in profit for its fiscal third quarter. Earnings fell to $0.82 a share from $1.02 in the year-ago period. Revenue also ticked lower by 1.1% to $2.2 billion as Darden's flagship Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains continued to see big traffic declines: same-store sales fell by 5% and 9% for the two brands, respectively, in the quarter. Despite those negative business trends, the company was confident that it could meet its full-year earnings target thanks to aggressive cost reductions. The stock was down 2.2% pre-market trading. 

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not 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.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.