Call it the "McRally."
Stocks jumped higher by nearly 2% today as a flood of companies, including fast food king McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and online selling juggernaut eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), posted their third-quarter earnings reports.
Lifted by strong results from these companies, data showing a strengthening housing market, and bullish comments out of the European Central Bank, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended up rising 1.7% and 1.9% on the day, respectively.
The surge was almost enough to push the S&P 500 into positive territory for the year, while the Dow remains 2% below where it began 2015. Yet stocks have gained a whopping 7% this month:
McDonald's returns to growth
McDonald's was today's major standout in the Dow. For a change the Golden Arches made Wall Street headlines for good news.
Remember, the fast food giant has been among the blue chip index's worst performers for two straight years, earning a spot as one of the annual "Dogs of the Dow" for both 2013 and 2014. Yet the stock doesn't seem poised to pull a three-peat this year as it's now the seventh best-performing issue on the 30-member index, year to date.
The reason for the shift is that McDonald's finally had some good data to report to shareholders this morning. Comparable store sales grew by a hefty 4% globally, the company announced, compared to a 0.7% drop last quarter. Comps also improved by 0.9% in the U.S. for Mickey D's first growth in its home market in two years .
The restaurant chain credited a popular launch of a new chicken sandwich, along with strength in breakfast, for the U.S. market gains. But management stressed the fact that growth was even stronger in international divisions. "I am encouraged by our operating performance for the quarter, with positive comparable sales across all segments, including the U.S., as well as sales recovery in China following the prior year supplier issue." CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a press release.
McDonald's still has a lot of work to accomplish before it can claim a real turnaround. Sales are only up by 2% through the first three quarters of the year while adjusted operating income is lower by 5%. But this quarter's results suggest customer traffic might finally be inching higher in the United States. And that gives McDonald's a big opportunity to start winning back some of the customers it has lost over the last few years.
Ebay stabilizes its business
EBay was the biggest percentage gainer in the S&P 500 today, rising 14% after the online merchant posted surprisingly strong third-quarter results. Sales volume rose by 6% globally. And that boost included a 3% gain in the U.S. market, which was an encouraging rebound from the 2% uptick eBay posted in each of the past two quarters .
Its base of active buyers improved by 5% to hit 159 million users around the world. While that marked the fifth straight quarter of decelerating growth, management said that customer gains were "stabilizing."
"We drove solid results in the quarter in which we completed a complex separation," CEO Devin Wenig said, referring to the company's splitting off of the PayPal business.
The retailer also managed its best free cash flow performance since 2014 by generating nearly $500 million. Reflecting their "confidence in the long-term value of the business," executives said, they decided to direct a big chunk of cash to stock buybacks this quarter, spending $600 million on repurchases. Investors who agree with management's assessment can still buy shares at a discount to where they were just two months ago. But thanks to today's pop, the stock has now turned solidly positive on the year.