Stock Market Today, Dec. 30: In the second-to-last trading day of the year, stocks are fairly flat except for some double-digit movers in the consumer and biotech sectors, like Crocs Inc. (Nasdaq: CROX) stock.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average today clutched a small gain of 25 points while both the Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index ended in the red. They fell about 0.02% and 0.06%, respectively.
U.S. stocks are kicking this week off on a sanguine note, even as the National Association of Realtors reports a slight increase in U.S. home sales in November, the first increase in six months. Home sales index of pending home sales increased 0.2% to 101.7 from 101.5 in October, although the index is lower than the 103.3 in November 2012. The NAR also reported that October sales were less than first reported, down 1.2%.
Light, sweet crude oil for February is down about $0.40 at $99.92 per barrel. Heating oil for February delivery is also down a bit at $3.08 per gallon. Metal futures are also down today, with February gold dropping 0.7% to $1,206 an ounce, while March silver slipped 1.7% to $19.71 an ounce.
Consumer Stocks: Crocs (CROX) Stock Zooms on Blackstone Investment
In the consumer sector today, Crocs Inc. (Nasdaq: CROX) is up a solid 21% after it said its board approved several measures, including an increase to its stock buyback program to $350 million. Crocs also approved a pact with private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) for the PE company to buy $200 million in convertible preferred stock.
The company reaffirmed its fourth-quarter outlook at the low end of its guidance, saying it expects revenue of about $220 million and a loss of $0.23 per share. And Crocs Chief Executive Officer John McCarvel will retire as president, CEO, and board member in April.
Blackstone shares seemed buoyant on the news as well, at first. Shares rose about 2% before ending the day down 0.16%. They marked a new 52-week high intraday at $31.94.
In other major consumer stocks news today...
Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: CALM) today reported net income of $26.1 million, or $1.08 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2014. The shell eggs producer did not provide its non-GAAP earnings, which would have been comparable to the Thomson Reuters consensus of $1.05 per share. Cal-Maine's net sales for the period increased 8% to $354.3 million from $328.9 million in the same period last year. CALM are fairly flat today, but they marked a new 52-week high at $61.33.
Finally, Analysts at BMO Capital have resumed coverage of Darling International Inc. (NYSE: DAR), upgrading the stock to Outperform from Market Perform with a $25 price target. DAR is up about 1% at $21.02.
Twitter Weighs Technology Sector
In significant technology stocks news today, Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) shares are down more than 7%, continuing their fall from a 13% tumble on Friday. Twitter stock sank on a downgrade at Macquire on Friday and are weighed today by a negative Barron's article, which noted its valuation is too high, as it's the only $45 billion company that does not generate earnings.
In other technology news, solar-power products manufacturer Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL) is up about 7% today after it signed an investment framework agreement with the local government authority of Turpan Prefecture to develop a 1GW ground-mounted solar power plant project in western China's Xinjiang Region. Under the agreement, TSL will begin the construction of the power plant early next year. Trina Solar will also invest in the construction of a PV module production facility in the local area to supply modules to the solar power plants.
Finally, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is down more than 1% today after it disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Friday that it is recommending its investors reject a proposal by Carl Icahn for the company to increase the size of its buyback program in 2014 to $50 billion. The proposal is set to go to vote at the company's annual meeting on Feb. 28, 2014. Apple reminded shareholders that it already has a $100 billion quarterly dividend and share repurchase program in place.
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