Wednesday proved to be another example of the resiliency of the bull market in stocks, as major market benchmarks bounced back from yesterday's losses to regain a substantial chunk of their lost ground. Even though U.S. GDP figures for the first quarter got revised downward to an ugly drop of 2.9%, few investors believe that the decline is anything but a one-time seasonal aberration. Helping to lead the market higher today were stocks from a number of different industries, including Penn Virginia (OTC:PVAHQ), Hanesbrands (NYSE:HBI), and zulily (UNKNOWN:ZU.DL).
Penn Virginia climbed 12% after the oil and gas production company got a wake-up call from investor George Soros, who owns about 9% of the company. Soros has said that he believes that Penn Virginia needs to put itself up for sale in order to maximize shareholder value, and if Penn Virginia doesn't do so, then Soros will have to take further action that could result in a proxy fight or other activist-investor activity. Soros also cited alleged mistakes by Penn Virginia management, which included privately offering convertible securities in a manner that diluted existing shareholders, and failing to make best use of the proceeds of that sale. Given the huge promise in energy, Soros' move shows that Penn Virginia, and similarly situated companies, can't afford just to move slowly without a firm strategy for the future.
Hanesbrands gained 9% as the apparel maker made its own foray into the mergers and acquisitions market, agreeing to buy French lingerie manufacturer DBApparel in an all-cash deal that values the company at about 400 million euros on an enterprise basis after adjusting for DBApparel's balance-sheet cash and outstanding debt. The acquisition will give complete control of the valuable Wonderbra and Playtex brands to Hanesbrands, and the combined company will enjoy some cost savings from production synergies, as well as giving Hanesbrands the ability to expand into uncharted territory in Europe. The deal shows that not all M&A activity involving international brands is motivated by tax considerations, as Hanesbrands didn't announce any intent to try to shift its headquarters abroad as a result of the merger.
For zulily, today's 9% rise came after the flash-sale specialist got an upgrade from a major Wall Street firm. Analysts argued that, after a dramatic drop in the value of zulily stock during the past several months, the shares now look like an attractive value proposition, especially given the steep growth trajectory of zulily's revenue in recent years. With moves to expand its growth efforts, zulily appears to have plenty of ways to seek to take maximum advantage of its e-commerce opportunity, and value-seeking investors appeared to appreciate that fact today.