On Tuesday, the stock market continued its recent pattern, climbing to new heights and then consolidating for a few days before heading back for another run at all-time record levels. Today, major market benchmarks finished just the tiniest bit higher, signaling just a brief pause in investors' long-term upward momentum. Moreover, several stocks performed far better than the benchmarks' daily returns, with Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS), Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS), and TASER International (NASDAQ:AAXN) all posting solid gains today.
Scientific Games jumped 12% after the maker of slot machines and lottery tickets named a new chief executive officer. Gavin Isaacs will take over at the head of Scientific Games, replacing David Kennedy as CEO. Part of the enthusiasm has to do with Isaacs' former experience as the head of SHFL Entertainment, which made Shuffle Master card-shuffling machines. But another reason for excitement is that one of Scientific Games' key rivals put itself up for sale yesterday, and some investors in Scientific Games apparently believe that it could be the next target.
Chico's gained 8% as it was the subject of reports suggesting that the women's retailer could also soon join the trend toward a going-private sale. Chico's hasn't seen its stock perform well in years, never fully bouncing back from its 2008 recessionary slump. But from a business standpoint, it's done somewhat better than many of its women's-retail peers, which have suffered bankruptcies and other threats to their very existence. If private equity firms believe there's potential, then shareholders need to look at any offer with skepticism rather than open arms, as there's every likelihood that private equity investors are trying to grab up Chico's on the cheap.
Finally, TASER International rose 6%. The company said today that Google Maps co-creator and former Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor would join TASER's international board of directors, lending his expertise in technology toward advancing the stun-gun's product lineup. With so much at stake among the law enforcement officers who use TASER's products for safety and protection on a daily basis, the need for cutting-edge technology to enhance their usefulness has never been greater. If Taylor's contributions make TASER customers more confident with their purchases, then it could be a big boost to the company's efforts to compete against gun manufacturers with its non-lethal alternatives.