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Stocks Edge Up on Housing Data, Japan's Easing

Cracker Barrel (CBRL) shares surged 5.9% after the company announced fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that almost doubled as the restaurant chain booked a stronger-than-anticipated 3.8% rise in same-store sales. In addition, the company decided in favor of another dividend hike of 25%.

AutoZone (AZO) shares gained 3.4% after the retailer and a distributor of automotive replacement parts booked a 7.4% gain in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings.

General Mills (GIS), the maker of Cheerios, posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of 66 cents a share, excluding special items, which topped analysts' expectations of 62 cents a share. Revenue came in at $4.05 billion, below forecasts of $4.08 billion. Shares rose 1.8%.

Pagnato of HighTower's Pagnato-Karp commented that slowing revenue growth among many corporations could begin hurting their earnings, with one of the main culprits behind this issue being the global economic slowdown.

"The United States has slowed down -- currently GDP is about 1.5%; you have Europe, that's in a recession, and you have China, that is also slowing down. So the three largest economic engines are all slowing down ... It's really a global picture."

"Earnings are the fundamental drivers of valuation and stock prices going forward, and over the last 30, 60 days, we've had more revisions by companies and analysts downward and larger revisions than we've ever had," said Pagnato.

He continued: "So what's happened in the last three or four years is a lot of the large corporations, these billion dollar corporations , they've been able to, they've done an incredible job of cutting and becoming very, very lean, but that's starting to come to an end. Unless, these corporations have good revenue increase, it's going to start hurting their earnings, and I think we're starting see that now in this quarter coming up."

--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.
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