These Three High-Volume Stocks Soared on Wednesday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Micron Technology (MU), Rite Aid  (RAD) and Plug Power (PLUG), three stocks which frequently top the most actively-traded list, soared on Wednesday.

Micron Technology rocketed 9.8% higher to $23.85 and saw 90.8 million shares change hands by market close after posting better-than-expected earnings a day earlier. The semiconductor developer reported net income of 77 cents a share for the first quarter ended Nov. 28, 2013, well over the 43 cents a share expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Rite Aid closed 6.4% higher to $5.65 and saw 51.9 million shares change hands. The gains were sparked by a JPMorgan research report which rated the drugstore as "overweight", up from a previous "neutral" rating, on the view retail pharmacy is well-positioned across the board.

Plug Power continued to book gains, adding 18.2% to $4.55 by market close and contributing to an overall 174.1% increase since the year began a mere five trading sessions ago. By the session's close, 105.6 million shares had changed hands, more than five times its three-month average daily volume.

The fuel cell developer has been marching upwards since last week after exceeding expectations with its fourth-quarter orders. The company said it met its fourth-quarter 2013 order targets, totaling approximately $32 million and including contracts with Walmart (WMT) and Procter & Gamble (PG).

Investors were also pleased with Plug Power's plan to develop hydrogen fuel-cell range extenders for 20 FedEx (FDX) delivery trucks, a $3 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

TheStreet Ratings team rates MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC (MU) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and attractive valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 44.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 729.16% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 226.69% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, MU should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC turned its bottom line around by earning $1.00 versus -$1.04 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.16 versus $1.00).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry. The net income increased by 802.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$243.00 million to $1,708.00 million.

TheStreet Ratings team rates RITE AID CORP as a Hold with a ratings score of C. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate RITE AID CORP (RAD) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • RAD's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.9%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, RAD's share price has jumped by 260.00%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock despite its gains in the past year.
  • RITE AID CORP's earnings per share declined by 42.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, RITE AID CORP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.12 versus -$0.42 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.21 versus $0.12).
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $244.01 million or 9.12% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow RITE AID CORP is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -48.15%.
  • The gross profit margin for RITE AID CORP is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 29.91%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.12% trails that of the industry average.

TheStreet Ratings team rates PLUG POWER INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate PLUG POWER INC (PLUG) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Electrical Equipment industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 54.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$10.33 million to -$15.90 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Electrical Equipment industry and the overall market, PLUG POWER INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • PLUG, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.1%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • PLUG's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.21 is sturdy.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to -$7.01 million or 1.82% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, PLUG POWER INC's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 19.53%.

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