Better-than-expected earnings from Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) gave their shares a boost and drove gains in the retail and tech spaces on Thursday, Nov. 16, while the Republicans' tax bill passed the House.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 201 points, or 0.9%, driven by Walmart and Cisco. The S&P 500 increased 23 points, and the Nasdaq rose 98 points, or 1.5%. Benchmark indexes were on track to close with gains for the first day in three.
Enough GOP leaders in the House voted in support of a tax reform bill on Thursday afternoon, pushing the bill through to the Senate. The bill received more than 220 Republican votes in the House with only 13 GOP congressman voting against the bill. The GOP could afford only 22 nay votes.
The affirmative vote is the first step in introducing Republicans' tax reform plans, which include steep cuts to the corporate tax rate. In comments before the House vote, President Donald Trump pushed House Republicans to vote "yes," calling the bill the "biggest tax cut in the history of our country."
The tax cuts' passage in the Senate has a more uncertain future, though. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin potentially threw up a roadblock to tax overhaul after he became the first Republican senator to say he opposed his party's tax legislation. The Senate is expected to vote on its tax plan early next month.
Dow component Walmart rocketed higher, trading at records, after reporting its ninth consecutive quarterly earnings beat. Revenue surged 4.2% to $123.2 billion over the quarter, higher than consensus of $121 billion. Adjusted earnings of $1 a share beat by 3 cents.
U.S. same-store sales rose 2.7%, while same-store traffic increased 1.5%. U.S. e-commerce sales, an area of focus for the company, grew 50%.
Other supermarket and consumer staples stocks followed Walmart higher, including Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) , PriceSmart Inc. (PSMT) , Target Corp. (TGT) , Dollar General Corp. (DG) and Kroger Co. (KR) . The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) rose nearly 1%.
Best Buy Co. (BBY) was shut out of retail gains after missing third-quarter sales estimates and issuing a weak forecast. Earnings of 78 cents a share rose from 61 cents a year earlier and matched analysts' estimates. However, revenue of $9.32 billion fell short of $9.36 billion consensus. Domestic same-store sales gained 4.5%, below targets of a 4.9% rise.
For its fourth quarter, Best Buy expects sales of $14.2 billion to $14.5 billion, in-line with estimates. Adjusted earnings guidance of $1.89 to $1.99 a share fell short of $2.03 consensus.
Cisco was on a tear after the networking giant posted stronger-than-expected earnings in first fiscal first quarter and said revenue will likely snap a long streak of declines as customers spend more on products such as security solutions.
Earnings of 61 cents a share beat out analysts by a penny. Cisco said revenue in its first quarter was led by its "security" sales, which rose 8%, and that it closed its purchased of privately held network forensics security applications provider Observable Networks Inc. The company anticipates second-quarter sales growth of 1% to 2% and adjusted earnings of 58 cents to 60 cents a share.
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Viacom Inc. (VIAB) was also higher on Thursday even after a weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth quarter. U.S. revenue from its key Media Networks business declined, with the group losing subscribers to its MTV and Comedy Central cable networks.
Adjusted earnings of 77 cents a share were up 12% from the same period last year but shy of the FactSet consensus forecast of 86 cents. Revenue was largely in-line with estimates at $3.319 billion, Viacom said, up 3% from last year and taking the full fiscal year tally to $13.263 billion.
J.M. Smucker Co. (SJM) increased more than 3% after topping quarterly profit and sales estimates. The owner of coffee brand Folger's earned an adjusted $2.02 a share over its recent quarter, 12 cents above expectations. Revenue increased 0.5% to $1.92 billion, $30 million above estimates. By segment, U.S. retail coffee sales were flat, and consumer foods fell 5%, while retail pet foods increased 4%.
Initial jobless claims increased to a six-week high in the past week, according to the Labor Department. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 to 249,000. The less volatile four-week claims average increased 6,500 to 237,750.
Industrial production in the U.S. rose at a faster pace than expected last month. The Federal Reserve reported a 0.9% rise in production in October, faster than an expected 0.5% increase. The gain was also three times the growth rate in September.
Preliminary results issued last month by P&G showed that Peltz had just under 50% of the vote, or roughly 49.8%. Final result tabulations by IVS Associates Inc., P&G's inspector of elections, however, showed that Peltz narrowly won.
RH (RH) surged nearly 20% after upping its third-quarter and full-year guidance, crediting its "dramatically more efficient" operations. The company anticipated third-quarter net revenue to rise by 8% and for adjusted earnings of $1.02 to $1.04 a share, up from its previous range of 68 cents to 80 cents. For the full year, the home goods company anticipates net income of $82 million to $87 million, above a previous range of $70 million to $77 million.
T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) added 5% after chief financial officer Braxton Carter said the company would put forth a "significant" share buyback plan for the board to decide on this month. Buybacks could begin as early as December. Speaking at a conference in Barcelona, Carter said the company was "excited about the potential in a rational way to start returning cash to shareholders." Shares had been under pressure since early November when merger talks with Sprint Corp. (S) came to an end.
Time Inc. (TIME) was higher on Thursday on reports the publisher is discussing a sale to Meredith Corp. (MDP) . The Koch brothers are reportedly putting up more than $500 million in equity to back a Meredith offer. Both companies have yet to comment on the reported discussions.
Updated from 1:06 p.m. ET, Nov. 16.
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