Market Minute: Smith & Wesson Earnings Fire Up; Best Buy Boosts Windows

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Some calm could return to the stock market today, and the gun debate lifts profits for a big gun maker. Those and more are what's making business news Friday.

The Dow industrials (^DJI) rallied 180-points yesterday, snapping the first three-day losing streak this year. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) jumped 23 and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 45 points.

We might see less volatility today after a week or so of whip-saw trading. Japanese stocks rebounded overnight, and there are reports Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may try to calm investor fears next week about plans to taper the Fed's bond-buying program.

smith wesson earnings gun debate self defense sandy hook
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Shares of Smith & Wesson (SWHC) are expected to shoot higher after the gun-maker reported preliminary earnings that beat expectations. Worries that Congress would impose restrictions on gun sales spurred demand and led to record sales.

Over the years, Best Buy Co. (BBY) has carved out space in its stores for Apple (AAPL) products and more recently, Samsung. Now it's setting up Windows Stores with products from Microsoft (MSFT), featuring Xbox games, computers and phones. For Microsoft, it's a way to pump up sales of Window 8.

Shares of Restoration Hardware Holdings (RH) are set to jump. Earnings at the home furnishings retailer topped expectations, and the company raised its forecast for the full year. Since going public last November, the stock has soared 89 percent.

A setback in Eli Lilly & Co.'s (LLY) attempt to conquer Alzheimer's. It's stopping a clinical trial of one drug because of potential side-affects involving the liver.

The private-equity firm KKR & Co. (KKR) is reportedly looking to sell its most well-known unit -- the Del Monte canned food business. The company would then focus on Del Monte's pet-food operations. The Wall Street Journal says the canned food business could be worth around $2 billion.

And Deutsche Bank (DB) has raised its rating on the daily deals firm Groupon (GRPN) to "buy" from "hold."

Check back after the market closes Friday for the new DailyFinance closing bell report.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg

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Market Minute: Smith & Wesson Earnings Fire Up; Best Buy Boosts Windows

(SPLS), down 2.4 percent
Big-box office supply store Staples has fallen prey to the same trends that have hit other big retailers: Internet competition makes it harder for companies to justify big investments in store locations. Recent mergers in the office-supply space could help Staples in the short-term, but it'll have to boost its own online selling to keep up with competitors in the long run.

(DF), down 7.3 percent
The agricultural sector has done well lately, but high crop prices mean expensive feed costs for dairy-producer Dean Foods. Moreover, with milk demand having steadily fallen over the past several decades, Dean faces demographic challenges in a declining industry, threatening its future growth prospects.

(PBCT), down 7.5 percent
This Connecticut-based savings and loan makes the list largely because of a delayed reaction to the financial crisis. Unlike big banks, People's United made it through the initial phase of the financial crisis intact. But in 2010 and 2011 it finally gave in to pressure that broadly hit the regional banking sector. The stock has rebounded lately but has a long way to go to get back to its former heights.

Photo: People's United Financial / Facebook

(BBY), down 10 percent
The big-box electronic retailer's woes are well-known, as the company has seen its massive stores become merely showrooms for shoppers to see products up close and in person before buying them more cheaply online. Recent discussions of a possible buyout have lifted shares, but investors are still sitting on long-term losses as Best Buy keeps struggling to find a path to stronger growth.

(EXC), down 10.2 percent
Electric utility Exelon is the biggest producer of nuclear power in the U.S., which traditionally gave it lower costs compared to more expensive fossil-fuel-burning rivals. But with natural gas prices having fallen so far, Exelon no longer has that competitive advantage. That has squeezed margins which forced the company to cut its dividend, leading many investors to flee the stock.

(HPQ), down 10.8 percent
Hewlett-Packard has suffered from declines in the PC industry, but a string of leadership changes also hampered the company from coming up with a consistent strategy for growth in the rapidly changing tech industry. Current CEO Meg Whitman has worked hard to reverse her predecessor's miscues. But despite some promising signs recently, the progress has been slower than most investors would like.

(SAI), down 24.1 percent
Defense-contractor SAIC has had to deal with the threat of budget cuts for years. Yet with its intelligence and technology systems, including cybersecurity-related products, SAIC would seem to have a cutting-edge advantage over more traditional military contractors. Still, with bigger competitors muscling in on SAIC's turf, SAIC now hopes that plans to split itself into two separate public companies will help it perform better than it has in recent years.

(PCS), down 29.5 percent
The revolution in smartphones and mobile technology has created many winners in the telecom space, but MetroPCS has largely missed out on the boom. With a substantial presence in low-cost prepaid phones, MetroPCS hasn't gotten to enjoy the popular releases that bigger rivals have used to power their profits. Even a possible merger with T-Mobile may not be enough to let MetroPCS assume a leadership role in the industry.

(APOL), down 74.4 percent
For-profit education companies have been under intense scrutiny from regulators who are concerned about the high loan-default rates for their students. With the potential for restrictions that would stop the flow of federal student-loan money into the industry, Apollo and many of its smaller peers have seen huge share-price declines, with negative publicity helping push enrollment figures down as well.

(FSLR), down 74.7 percent
The solar industry has seen a sea change lately, as governments around the world have cut back on heavy subsidies and forced companies to survive on their own to a much greater extent. First Solar's low-cost advantages have actually give it an edge on some harder-hit rivals, but the company needs to boost the efficiency of its products in order to compete better in the cutthroat market.

Even when markets are rising, some stocks fall. The key is to look for strength among the companies you invest in, so you can avoid money traps like these losing stocks.

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