Tuesday was a disappointment to investors who've already faced a challenging 2016. Gains early in the day brought hope that the stock market had finally hit bottom in this painful downturn, but by the close, the market had given up nearly all of its early rise and in some cases posted modest declines on the day. Nevertheless, there were still a few bright spots in the market, and among the best performers Tuesday were Viacom (VIAB), Waste Connections (WCN 1.42%), and Teck Resources (TECK 2.61%).
Viacom rose 5% as the media giant continued to face pressure from activist investors. A Viacom shareholder filed a derivative lawsuit in Delaware court Tuesday arguing that the company shouldn't have paid executive chairman and controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone for his services in recent years. Alleging that Redstone has become "physically and mentally incapacitated," the lawsuit only adds to the controversy over whether Viacom should have revealed more details about Redstone's health. In addition, activist investor SpringOwl Asset Management called on Redstone and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman to step down to refocus the media company more on digital distribution and content production. Investors took this as a positive sign for change and sent the stock higher.
Waste Connections gained 7% on two pieces of news. First, the company announced preliminary fourth-quarter results that exceeded expectations, including revenue of $531.9 million and adjusted net earnings of $0.48 per share. More importantly, the company said that it plans to combine with Progressive Waste Solutions in an all-stock transaction that should leave Progressive shareholders with 48.15 shares of the combined company for every 100 shares they own. The net result will be that current Waste Connections shareholders will control 70% of the combined company. Waste Connections believes that an expanded operational footprint, diversified revenue streams, synergy-related savings, and financial strength should make the post-merger company better than the sum of its parts, and investors appeared to agree, given their share-price reaction.
Finally, Teck Resources climbed 10% despite a down day for most of the commodities sector. The mining company successfully agreed to sell royalties on 56 different assets in Teck Resources' portfolio to Sandstorm Gold for a total of $22 million, composed of $1.4 million in cash and about 8.37 million shares of Sandstorm. The royalties cover properties operated by major gold miners such as Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining, and Sandstorm argued that cash flow will help its results. For Teck, Sandstorm's future will be important given its new stake in the company, but Teck will need the commodities markets to recover for the asset sale to have long-term significance.