Monday proved to be a sluggish start to the trading week on Wall Street, and investors didn't seem certain about which direction made more sense for stocks to move as the first quarter approached its close. Another decline in oil prices weighed on sentiment, but the fact that the market has mostly held onto its recent bounce from its sizable drop to begin the year has been encouraging. Moreover, even though the broader market was little changed on the day, some stocks were able to break out of the overall malaise and move sharply higher. Among them were Cal-Maine Foods (CALM -1.39%), Finish Line (FINL), and Qlik Technologies (QLIK).
Cal-Maine rose 9% after reporting its fiscal third-quarter results. The egg producer said that sales rose almost 3% from the year-ago quarter, and high prices helped send net income up by more than 25% to $64.2 million. Earnings of $1.33 per share were more than a third higher than the consensus forecast among investors. Cal-Maine CEO Dolph Baker noted that average selling prices for eggs have fallen considerably from their recent highs, but they are still above the levels at which they sold at this time last year. The egg producer also pointed to the specialty egg market, which has seen double-digit percentage growth in volume and now makes up almost a third of Cal-Maine's overall revenue. "As the food service industry, restaurant chains, and major retailers are increasingly demanding more cage-free eggs," Baker said, "we are working with customers to facilitate a smooth transition to meet this demand." That's good news for Cal-Maine, and it could help drive business forward in the future.
Finish Line was up 12% in the wake of further positive comments from analysts. Last Friday, analysts at Citi said that the athletic footwear retailer was benefiting from the positive impact of greater competition among shoe manufacturers, which it believes is contributing to overall growth in the industry. The company is going through a transitional period right now, closing stores to focus on its most profitable opportunities. However, analysts at Jefferies raised their price targets by 9% with the argument that Finish Line is on the right track, and a further upgrade from analysts at BB&T gave more ammunition to those arguing that Finish Line's comeback story is for real.
Finally, Qlik Technologies climbed 9%. As we've seen several times in recent days with other companies, Qlik was the subject of takeover speculation on Monday, and market participants believe that the maker of data visualization products and technology would be a good candidate for an acquisition from a major player in the tech industry. Initiatives like Big Data and the Internet of Things have transformed the tech world in the recent past, but it's increasingly important that companies be able to use the information that they gather in a meaningful way. If Qlik can bridge that gap and make data analytics accessible to its clients, then the company will make a smart strategic fit with any large tech company that's trying to give its clients a complete picture of the potential from the Internet of Things and Big Data.