Stocks continued to struggle for direction on Wednesday, again suffering an intraday reversal that this time took early gains away by the end of the trading session. Without clear guidance from the bigger-picture macroeconomic perspective, many investors simply looked at the ups and downs of various stocks due to their latest earnings results. As a result, even though the market couldn't give investors good news, several individual stocks climbed sharply. Among them were Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM), Mattress Firm Holding (NASDAQ: MFRM), and Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE).
Akamai jumped 21% after the company reported its fiscal first-quarter financials on Tuesday afternoon. The Internet-acceleration specialist topped projections for revenue and earnings, beating the consensus forecast by $0.10 per share on the bottom line. In addition to its strong performance, Akamai said that it would authorize $1 billion in stock repurchases, further bolstering the previously hard-hit stock. Even though Akamai's media-delivery business suffered a slight drop in revenue, the company got a big boost of nearly half in its cloud security division. Investors also cheered a change in its organizational structure, by which the company will focus itself on media-related and Internet-related opportunities. Akamai hopes that the move will help the company serve customers better and increase innovation and productivity.
Mattress Firm rose 8% in light of news that private equity investors at Boston's Berkshire Partners had taken a stake of more than 10% in the mattress retailer. Mattress Firm has been the subject of attention from activist investors for a couple of years now, because a long stretch of acquisitions such as the most recent buyout of peer Sleepy's has put stress on the company's balance sheet without producing a large amount of earnings growth. Other investment firms have questioned the independence of Mattress Firm's board, and even though Berkshire Partners doesn't have a reputation for putting its investments' feet to the fire, some bullish investors expect positive action resulting from the stake that could help the stock bounce back from poor performance in 2015.
Finally, Empire District Electric climbed 17% following the announcement that fellow utility Algonquin Power will buy the company for $1.49 billion. The bid of $34 per share in cash for Empire District Electric came as Canada's Algonquin seeks to expand southward, following in the footsteps of some other Canadian power-generation companies. Algonquin will also assume Empire District Electric's debt, making the total value of the transaction roughly $2.4 billion. For its part, Algonquin expects the deal to add to its earnings immediately. However, shareholders should expect a lengthy review process, because the involvement of an international buyer will trigger not just the normal state regulatory framework but also some reviews at the federal level, as well.