The stock market finished the month of November on a down note, with most major market benchmarks finishing the month very close to the unchanged mark. Many investors seemed more focused on Cyber Monday-related shopping than on their investments, but several stocks defied the sluggish market to climb higher. Among them were Ambarella (AMBA -5.32%), Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), and ITC Holdings (ITC).
Ambarella rose 7% as the maker of video processing chips got favorable comments from a Wall Street analyst firm. In many investors' eyes, Ambarella's prospects are directly tied to those of GoPro (GPRO -4.31%), a major customer and leader in consumer specialty video electronics. Yet analysts at Stifel argued that irrespective of how well GoPro and the action-video market does, Ambarella has a host of other future prospects for its chip technology that could lead the company higher in the future. In particular, with home surveillance cameras and drones potentially needing specialty chips, Stifel sees growth at Ambarella being more long-term in nature.
Arena Pharmaceuticals climbed 11% as the maker of anti-obesity drug Belviq announced that it and marketing partner Eisai had had their new drug application for an extended release formulation of the drug accepted for filing by the Food and Drug Administration. Arena was careful to note that the acceptance was merely of the application rather than of the extended-release version of the drug itself, but the company nevertheless was optimistic that the FDA had been willing to accept the application. As one Arena executive noted, "The filing of this application by the FDA means they have made a threshold determination that it is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review." Nevertheless, Arena hopes that if the new version of the drug eventually gains FDA approval, it will give patients a once-daily option for taking Belviq.
Finally, ITC Holdings jumped 9% after the company announced that the electricity-transmission specialist would explore strategic options, including a possible sale. The move follows up on similar shareholder-friendly initiatives that ITC has taken lately, including a 15% dividend increase in August and an accelerated stock repurchase program for $115 million. With many utility companies looking to consolidate in a fairly fragmented national industry, ITC Holdings offers would-be acquirers the chance to add to their transmission capabilities. That diversification could be of particular value to generating companies, and so it will be interesting to see what kind of response ITC gets as it begins its explorations.