The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) regained most of the ground it lost in yesterday's chaotic market. The stock market began a steep, day-long sell-off on Thursday after a commercial Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by an unknown party near contested parts of the Ukraine-Russia border. Germany and the U.S. have now accused Russian-backed militants for the attack, drawing a line in the sand, and demanding that Russia withdraw its support for these rebels or face repercussions.
On a lighter note, robust sales growth from Google and AbbVie's $54 billion acquisition of Shire both testified to the financial power of corporate America. Boosted by a strong start to earnings season, the Dow gained 123 points, or 0.7%, to end at 17,100.
Twenty-eight of the Dow's 30 components finished higher on Friday. Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shares joined in on the fun, adding 0.9%, breaking a four-day losing streak. Though Disney is a diversified, global entertainment juggernaut in a league of its own, investors shouldn't get complacent by any means. Competition is heating up, particularly in the world of sports broadcasting, where Disney's ESPN is the crown jewel. The Disney-owned ABC is currently negotiating a multiyear deal with the NBA, seeking to retain exclusive rights to the NBA Finals. But the NBA wants double the $485 million ABC currently pays annually to the league for broadcasting rights. On top of that, Time Warner may try to outbid Disney for those rights.
The final layer of competition could come from Twenty-First Century Fox, which offered to buy Time Warner for $80 billion -- largely for its sports broadcasting rights -- but was turned down.
While Disney offers all sorts of quintessential entertainment services, Ameresco (NYSE:AMRC) offers services that can be equally alluring, if not as exciting. Ameresco is in the business of saving its clients money. Ameresco offers custom solutions that aim to bring down the day-to-day operational costs, and energy costs for its clients, which often include the U.S. government, hospitals, and other large businesses. While energy efficiency remains one of the hottest topics in our society today, Ameresco's stock hasn't been so hot this year: It's down more than 30% in 2014 after today's 2.2% stumble. With no dividend to lure investors, analysts expecting sales to fall off this fiscal year, and sexier rivals like SolarCity getting all the attention from Wall Street, the pressure's on Ameresco to prove the market wrong.
Teekay LNG Partners (NYSE:TGP), a Bermuda-based company that ships liquid natural gas and oil across the world, shed 4.2% today. In sharp contrast to Ameresco, Teekay LNG does offer a hefty dividend that it can use to lure investors. In fact, its 6.3% annual dividend is tough to ignore. But before falling hopelessly in love with this stock, consider how Teekay can afford to reward investors with such a juicy chunk of cash. My colleague Robert Zimmerman refers to it as "that four letter word" -- debt. Mr. Zimmerman argues convincingly that Teekay's debt is the company's Achilles' Heel, an argument supported by both bad liquidity ratios and the fact that the company doles out more money in the form of dividends than it actually earns each year. The rest is financed through debt.