Updated from 4:04 p.m. ESTStocks closed higher for the second day in a row Wednesday as a solid quarter at Texas Instruments ( TXN) and encouraging guidance from Oracle ( ORCL) kept investors buying. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.03 points, or 0.3%, to 10,498.59, below its session high of 10,531.99; the S&P 500 added almost 5.66 points, or 0.5%, to 1174.07; and the Nasdaq jumped 26.14 points, or 1.3%, to 2046.09, having come close to falling through 2000 Monday. The two positive days for stocks followed four down days. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.63 billion shares, with advancers beating decliners by a ratio of about 12 to 5. Volume on the Nasdaq was 2.10 billion shares, with advancers outpacing decliners 11 to 5. In other markets, the 10-year Treasury bond gained 1/32 in price to yield 4.19%, while the dollar was lower against the yen and euro. "One has to be a bit encouraged by the tracing out of a market bottom," said Barry Hyman, equity market strategist with Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum Inc. "The same negative selloff-decline pattern came yesterday, but the follow-through today is definitely more encouraging. "The earnings picture is more optimistic approaching the end of the season. The catalyst will move away from earnings towards the Federal Reserve next week, with the wonder about whether the Fed will stay measured," Hyman said. Oil prices eased, with the March contract finishing down 86 cents to $48.78 a barrel. The Energy Department said crude inventories rose by 3.4 million last week. U.S. distillates and gasoline inventories both fell by 2.3 million barrels. In its fourth quarter, chipmaker Texas Instruments earned $490 million, or 28 cents a share, down about 5% from $512 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 14% to $3.2 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $3.1 billion.
Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform, believing the company can match 2005 earnings estimates. TI added $1.54, or 7.3%, to $22.66. Software giant Oracle said early Wednesday that it expects 2005 earnings of 62 cents a share, about a penny better than forecasts, thanks to the addition of PeopleSoft. In 2006, Oracle is targeting earnings of 76 cents to 80 cents a share, above the Wall Street consensus estimate of 71 cents a share. Shares rose 3 cents, or 0.2%, to $13.62. Sirius ( SIRI) lost 1% after reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $261.9 million, or 21 cents a share, compared with a loss of $147.8 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 409% to $25.2 million. The Thomson First Call consensus called for a loss of 16 cents a share on revenue of $28.4 million. The company expects 2005 revenue of $210 million, compared with analyst forecasts of $213 million. Sirius was off 6 cents to $6.18. SBC Communications ( SBC) said it had fourth-quarter earnings of $754 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with $905 million, or 27 cents a share, from the same period a year ago. Excluding items, the company earned 34 cents a share in the latest quarter. Revenue increased to $10.3 billion vs. $9.98 billion. The Thomson First Call forecast projected earnings of 33 cents a share. The company also said it plans to cut 7,000 jobs, or 4.4% of its workforce, in 2005. The stock gained 13 cents, or 0.5%, to $24.58. Eli Lilly ( LLY) reported a loss of $2.4 million, or break-even on a per-share basis, including a $465 million tax expense as well as restructuring charges. Excluding items, the company earned $814.3 million, or 75 cents a share, a penny ahead of the Thomson First Call estimate. Sales for the company rose 5% to $3.64 billion. Eli Lilly rose 65 cents, or 1.2%, to $55.50.
InfoSpace ( INSP) saw fourth-quarter sales double to $79.7 million, while earnings rose to $18.9 million, or 50 cents a share, up from $9.9 million, or 29 cents a share, last year. The Thomson First Call projection was 40 cents a share on sales of $75 million. InfoSpace also expects sales of $84 million to $86 million in the first quarter and $375 million to $395 million for the year, also beating forecasts. Shares added $9.53, or 25.6%, to $46.80. Kraft Foods ( KFT) posted fourth-quarter earnings of $628 million, or 37 cents a share, down almost 28% from $869 million, or 50 cents a share, from the same period a year ago. Excluding items, Kraft would have earned 49 cents a share, matching analysts' expectations. Kraft rose 19 cents, or 0.6%, to $33.22. Altria ( MO) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.95 billion, or 94 cents a share, down from $2.1 billion, or $1.02 a share, from a year ago. The food and tobacco company said that restructuring costs due to Kraft dragged down its bottom line. Earnings missed the Thomson First Call estimate of $1.06. Shares of Altria fell 45 cents, or 0.7%, to $61.84. Shares of Eastman Kodak ( EK) gained after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $12 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with earnings of $19 million, or 7 cents a share, from the same quarter a year ago. Excluding items, earnings would have been 78 cents a share, beating the Thomson First Call estimate of 66 cents a share. Eastman Kodak added 11 cents, or 0.3%, to $31.66. General Dynamics ( GD) said Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit rose about 20% to $336 million, or $1.66 a share, from $279 million, or $1.40 a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 17% to $5.2 billion from $4.7 billion last year. The Thomson First Call consensus estimate was for net income of $330.3 million, or $1.63 a share, on revenue of $5.12 billion. Shares gained $3.71, or 3.8%, to $102.48.
In broker action, Merrill Lynch upgraded Yahoo! ( YHOO) to buy from neutral, citing valuation and increased online advertising from the Internet company. The brokerage set a target price of $44. Yahoo! closed up $1.43, or 4.2%, to $35.47. On Thursday, companies reporting earnings will include Caterpillar ( CAT), Lockheed Martin ( LMT), Nokia ( NOK), and JetBlue ( JBLU). The government also will release the durable-goods orders for December, expected to slow to an increase of 0.6% from a 1.6% increase the previous month. The Labor Department also will release initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 21, expected to increase by 330,000 claims. Overseas stocks closed mixed, with London's FTSE 100 flat at 4847 and Germany's Xetra DAX down 0.5% to 4214. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.9% to 11,377, and Germany's Xetra DAX added 0.3% to 13,624.