Stocks were mixed Thursday following Wednesday's record close for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
The blue-chip benchmark finished Wednesday's session up 0.3% at 16,580.54, leapfrogging the previous record close of 16,576.66 hit on Dec. 31. The milestone was indeed a sign of market resilience amid a lackluster gross domestic product (GDP) report, and the continuation of the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond taper.
There was nothing lackluster about Thursday's flurry of deal announcements, earning reports, and analysts' actions moving stocks higher. Following are 12 of Thursday's hot stocks to watch.12 Hot Stocks to Watch Today
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) shares climbed nearly 7% to $38.95 in morning trading after Jefferies upgraded the upscale teen retailer to "Buy" from "Hold" and boosted its price target to $50 from $37. The upgrade came on the heels of ANF bowing to activist investor Engaged Capital LLC, which had fought to shake up ANF's management. In a move that shows it is becoming more shareholder-friendly, ANF on Wednesday named four new independent directors to its board.
Biogen Idec Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) rose 1.5% to $290.50 after new analysis of Tysabri, its blockbuster multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, showed improved walking speed in a significant number of MS patients. The data was presented Wednesday at the 66th American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pa. Moreover, additional recent studies showed that switching to Tysabri decreased the risk of future relapse, disability progression, and treatment discontinuation for MS patients. Global market sales of Tysabri for all of 2013 totaled $1.7 billion, a 3% increase year over year.
DIRECTV (Nasdaq: DTV) shares jumped 6% to a 52-week high of $82.75 intraday after The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) had approached the satellite TV operator with a takeover offer. Such a deal is estimated to be worth a whopping $40 billion. The combination would create a giant cable provider serving some 26 million customers. That would put it second only to the 30 million subscriber potential in the ongoing Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA)/Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) merger.
Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) shares rose 2.26% to $36.00 thanks to a pair of upgrades. Deutsche Bank raised its rating on EXC to "Buy" from "Hold" and upped its price target to $38 from $34. The firm called the utility company a core play in a long-awaited energy generation recovery. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo upgraded EXC to "Market Perform" from "Underperform." Wells cited an improving power market for the upgrade, adding EXC should see accretion from the Pepco Holding Inc. (NYSE: POM) purchase. EXC announced Wednesday it is buying Pepco for $6.83 billion. The move that helps EX overtake Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) to become the biggest U.S. power distribution company.
JetBlue Airways Corp. (Nasdaq: JBLU) shares jumped 3.3% to $8.25 after JP Morgan raised its rating on the stock to "Overweight" from "Neutral" with a $10 price target.
MaxLinear Inc. (NYSE: MXL) shares moved up nearly 25% to $10.25 intraday following a robust Q1 2014 for the semiconductor company. MXL posted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.10, beating analysts' expectations by $0.03. Revenue came in at $32.5 million, also better than the $31.70 million forecast. Needham & Co. recently raised its price target on MXL from $12 to $14.
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: MACK) shares surged nearly 70% to a new 52-week high of $7.65 intraday. Sending MACK shares higher was an announcement from the Cambridge, Mass.-based company that its treatment for pancreatic cancer, when used in combination with two other drugs, showed an improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival, in a late stage trial. Additionally, MACK posted improved Q1 2014 earnings Thursday. MACK lost $0.27 per share, or $27.8 million, $0.02 better than a loss of $0.29 per share, or $28.3 million, reported in the same quarter a year ago.
T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) shares soared 9.97% to $32.21 intraday after the wireless carrier said it added 1.3 million wireless contract subscribers in Q1, a quarterly record. Costs associated with rapid growth, as TMUS continues to vie for space dominated by behemoth rivals, were cited for why the company swung to a loss in Q1. TMUS lost $0.19 a share, or $151 million, on revenue of $6.88 billion. Analysts were looking for a $0.10 loss on revenue of $6.92 billion. In separate TMUS news, Bloomberg reported Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, plans to make a takeover bid for TMUS.
Weight Watchers International Inc. (NYSE: WTW) shares jumped more than 25% to $25.15 after handily beating Q1 2014 estimates. The New York-based company posted Q1 net income of $21.5 million, or $0.38 a share, down 56% from $48.8 million, or $0.87 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue came in at $409.4 million, down 17% year over year. But, both figures were comfortably better than the $0.09 EPS on revenue of $399.20 million forecast. WTW also raised its FY2014 outlook, boosting expected EPS to $1.45-$1.70, up from the prior range of $1.30-$1.60.
Yelp Inc. (YELP) shares leapt 13.53% to $66.49 after posting a narrower Q1 2014 loss than analysts expected. Wednesday after the close, the online urban guide company reported a loss of $0.04 per share, $0.02 better than forecasts. Sales rose 66% year over year to $76.4 million. Yelp also enjoyed a 30% rise, to 132 million, in average monthly visitor count. Thursday, Macquarie upgraded YELP to "Outperform" from "Neutral."
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