On Thursday, bullish investors got one piece of encouraging news that they'd been waiting for, as the European Central Bank made efforts to accelerate the growth in Europe's recovering economy with a combination of innovative interest rate movements. European stocks reacted favorably at first to the news, but later gave back most of their gains. Nevertheless, U.S. stocks held onto, and even built on, their early rise, with a couple of key markets hitting new all-time highs. Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR), Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED), and National Bank of Greece (UNKNOWN:NBG.DL) outpaced the broader stock market today.
Finisar rose 10% as the supplier of fiber-optic components and other networking equipment celebrated in the wake of positive earnings from one of its customers, Ciena (NYSE:CIEN). Ciena soared 18% after seeing revenue rise 10% and adjusted earnings come in about 30% higher than investors had expected. The company also said that it expected further sequential growth in revenue for the current quarter. After a long period of relative stagnation for telecom-equipment suppliers, Finisar stands to benefit from the success of Ciena and other key customers if the trend toward greater telecom spending continues.
Universal Display picked up 9% after the maker of organic LED lighting products announced a stock buyback program of $50 million last night. Universal Display's stock had dropped by almost 30% from its March highs as investors worried about whether key customers would move forward with large-screen OLED television displays, allowing Universal Display to tap into more than just the small-screen OLED market. With the program representing just about 4% of Universal Display's total market capitalization, though, the company will have to offer investors a fundamental improvement in earnings growth, as well, in order to bolster its stock further.
National Bank of Greece gained 7% in the aftermath of the European Central Bank's decision on interest rate and monetary policy. U.S. investors paid the most attention to the largest economies in Europe today, given the ECB's capacity to make moves affecting those countries that, in turn, could have a global impact on the economy. Yet, for smaller European markets like Greece, having the full resources of the continent's central bank to help spur economic development is a definite positive. It's particularly useful for the National Bank of Greece and other banks in emerging areas of Europe to be able to tap into a pool of hundreds of billions of euros to bolster lending for potential growth initiatives. National Bank of Greece could continue to benefit from improving conditions in Greece if the ECB's efforts prove successful.