Dow Finishes Strong as The Container Store Doubles in Its IPO

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out the week on a bright note, climbing 70 points to finish 0.5% as it got a boost from a strong manufacturing report. The Institute of Supply Management's index for factory activity improved to 56.4 from 55.0, its highest reading since April 2011, confirming the jump from the Chicago PMI yesterday. Coming during the month when the government was shut down, the reports seem to indicate that the economy is inexorably headed toward recovery. The blue chips also managed to shake off Chevron's poor performance as the oil giant fell 1.6% on a poor earnings report.

J.C. Penney shares shot up today, finishing 8% higher as the ailing retailer got an endorsement from ITG Investment Research, which bumped up its sales forecast due to "improving sales trends." Still, the increase was modest as analyst John Tomlinson sees same-store sales falling 4%, instead of the previous projection at a 6% decline. CEO Myron Ullman has said three times in the last five weeks that comparable sales are headed upward this quarter. The stock's jump on such minor lift in forecast shows what dire straits both the company and the stock are in. Sales fell 25% last year, and have continued to decline by double digits this year as the company has been posting huge losses. Meanwhile, it owes $5 billion in debt. Any potential turnaround is still clearly a long way away.

In today's IPO news, shares of The Container Store more than doubled from their offer price of $18, jumping 101% to $36.20. The Container Store's run continues a surprising streak of IPO pops in retail this year that includes Potbelly and Noodles & Company. The retailer of (surprise!) containers and other household items raked in $828 million from the stock sale, giving it a modest valuation based $707 million in sales last year. Still, the top line has only grown at an annual rate of 7% over the last five years, but the company insists there's plenty of opportunity. At a current store count of 62, it believes it can grow that 400% to 300 before cannibalization becomes a problem. Based on today's surge, investors clearly agree.

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