On Wednesday, the stock market vaulted higher, with the S&P 500 reaching a new all-time record high. Yet even though the latest pronouncement on monetary policy from the Federal Reserve appeared to give investors confidence about the future of the U.S. economy, the biggest surprise was that the stock market moved so sharply despite the Fed's generally telling market participants what they had already expected to hear. Among the biggest gainers in the market today were FedEx (NYSE:FDX), Air Products & Chemicals (NYSE:APD), and Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), which climbed much more substantially that the roughly half to three-quarters percent gains for the major market benchmarks.
FedEx rose 6% to a new record of its own after the delivery company reported strong results for its fiscal fourth quarter. FedEx said that e-commerce had proven to be a vital component in its overall growth, with revenue gains of 3.5% almost doubling what shareholders had expected to see. The key ground-shipping segment saw even faster growth of 8%, with rate increases and residential surcharges helping to add to FedEx's bottom line. With earnings guidance for the new fiscal year in line with the assessment investors had, FedEx appears to be taking advantage of the rise of online retail as a growing component of overall economic activity.
Air Products & Chemicals gained 7.5% after the provider of specialty gases and performance materials named a new chief executive officer. The company picked Seifi Ghasemi as its CEO, stealing the executive away from Rockwood Holdings and signaling a potential change in the company's strategic direction. At Rockwood, Ghasemi helped to make strategic asset sales and purchases in order to emphasize its best prospects, and activist investor Bill Ackman has called for Air Products & Chemicals to make the same sort of moves to enhance shareholder value. In particular, with Air Products & Chemicals having an electronics segment that doesn't entirely fit well with the rest of its industrial-gas business, the potential for a sale could help lift shares further.
Adobe Systems climbed 8% after the maker of creative and marketing software products reported better earnings than investors were looking to see. In particular, Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription product saw huge growth of more than 25% just in the past quarter, with more than 2.3 million subscribers already getting the service and with Adobe expecting an additional 1 million by the end of the year. Now that the transition from license-based sales to recurring subscription revenue is complete, gains in quarterly revenue should accelerate from this quarter's 5.7% level, and the popularity of Adobe's products gives it plenty of room for future growth.