The first week of 2016 was a terrible one for stock market investors, with more declines on Friday leading the major market indexes in the U.S. to losses of around 6% in total over the five trading sessions. Even positive data on U.S. employment weren't enough to produce a lasting recovery, and investors continued to look at China's instability and the ongoing collapse of energy prices as potential hotspots for further deterioration in the financial markets. Even so, some individual-stock stories were positive, and Viacom (VIAB), LGI Homes (LGIH -2.34%), and Boyd Gaming (BYD -0.25%) posted solid gains on the day.
Viacom rose 5% after reports surfaced that the media company intends to allow shareholders to vote to extend voting rights to both classes of its stock. Currently, only Class A shares have a vote, with executive chairman Sumner Redstone holding the vast majority of that share class. The proposal would allow Class B shareholders to have a vote as well. Redstone is expected to vote against the proposal, which will give it no chance of success. Yet as Redstone ages, some investors question whether the media giant's succession plan would adequately protect shareholders of both classes. Institutional holders of voting shares would respond by saying that both classes trade on the open market, and so those who want the vote can buy the more expensive Class A shares. Interestingly, Class A stock also posted gains of 4% on the day.
LGI Homes climbed 7% in the wake of its release of data on home closings for December and for 2015 in whole. The homebuilder reported that it set an all-time record for closings in December, completing 433 transactions. That brought its fourth-quarter total to 946 homes, and throughout the year, LGI Homes closed on 3,404 homes. The Texas-based builder's results were particularly heartening for those who had feared that the plunge in the energy industry might put a damper on housing-market activity in the Lone Star State, but they also emphasized the fact that the Texas economy has diversified itself well beyond the oil and gas sector. LGI Homes also painted a pretty picture for 2016, anticipating closings on more than 4,000 homes by the end of the year as long as interest rates and other macroeconomic factors remain relatively stable.
Finally, Boyd Gaming gained 5%. Analysts at a prominent Wall Street firm upgraded the domestic casino stock, pointing to the potential for higher discretionary spending among U.S. consumers to help drive growth among its core customer base. Boyd enjoyed a successful 2015 as the long-standing trend favoring casino companies with exposure to Asia suddenly reversed itself, leaving U.S.-centered gaming resorts like Boyd's looking much more favorable than hard-hit areas like Macau. Fears of global contagion finally penetrating the U.S. economy are running rampant right now, but at least for Boyd, those fears are taking a backseat to the positive impact of low gasoline prices and strong employment on the amount that casino visitors have to spend.