The stock market added to its gains for the week on Wednesday, pushing higher as investors chose to take the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee as a positive sign for the U.S. economy. Yet several stocks added company-specific positive news of their own to the overall rally, and among them, TASER International (NASDAQ:AAXN), Arcos Dorados (NYSE:ARCO), and CONSOL Energy (NYSE:CNX) all outpaced the gains in the broader market benchmarks.
TASER International rose 9% on Wednesday, rebounding from a months-long slump that has cut the value of its shares in half. Analysts at Landenburg Thalmann upgraded the stun-gun maker, citing opportunities not just in non-lethal weaponry but also in equipment designed to help law enforcement officers produce videos of their interactions with the public. With the potential to win a major contract with police in London, TASER might be able to boost its international exposure to take advantage of increasingly volatile conditions around the world. Although competition has increased, TASER has the advantages of being a first-mover and having a well-known brand name that should carry some weight among potential buyers.
Latin American fast-food franchisee Arcos Dorados gained nearly 10%, as the company benefited from overall favorable conditions in emerging-market stocks throughout the region. Brazil makes up nearly half of Arcos Dorados' sales, and the plunge in the value of the Brazilian currency, falling economic output, and high inflation have combined to hurt the franchisee's prospects. The company's stock fell sharply when bond ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Brazil's credit rating to junk status, hurting Arcos Dorados' ability to refinance its extensive debt. Yet with a key ETF tracking the Brazilian markets climbing 3% on the day, investors are starting to think that the emerging economy's stock market in general -- and Arcos Dorados in particular -- could be poised for a rebound.
Finally, coal-miner turned energy conglomerate CONSOL Energy climbed 8% on follow-through buying after billionaire investor David Einhorn revealed that his hedge fund had added to its stake in the company. Unlike most of its coal-producing peers, CONSOL made a strategic shift a couple years ago to sell off some of its coal mines in favor of embracing natural gas exploration. Both of those businesses have been plagued with difficult conditions recently, but Einhorn pointed out in his presentation that CONSOL's remaining coal mines have lower cost structures than the ones it sold. When you combine the value of its natural gas holdings with the prospects for its coal business, Einhorn believes that the stock undervalues the business. Many investors have called for a bottom in the coal market in the recent past without success, but Einhorn's reputation is solid enough to have CONSOL investors thinking about a possible uptick in the business in the months and years to come.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Arcos Dorados. The Motley Fool recommends Taser International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.