It was a day filled with U.S. deal-blocking and mixed economic reports for the broad-based S&P 500 .
On the data front, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index blew away estimates by coming in at 55.6, indicating the strongest expansion in nine months, and offering further evidence that the underlying economy is expanding. On the flip side, jobless claims increased 38,000 from the previous week, to 368,000, which is a bit higher than analysts were estimating.
S&P 500 component Constellation Brands provided a serious drag on the index, when the U.S. Justice Department filed a suit against Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is attempting to acquire Grupo Modelo. The Justice Department notes this would eliminate InBev's competition with Grupo Modelo and discourage innovation. Constellation jointly owns Crown Imports with Grupo Modelo, and dropped sharply on the potential U.S. regulation roadblock.
For the day, the S&P 500 dipped 3.85 points (-0.26%), its second-straight loss, to close at 1,498.11.
However, today's modest fall was ignored by three S&P 500 components, which all rocketed higher by double digits following their earnings results.
Oft maligned mail equipment and software company Pitney Bowes led all gainers, up 20.5%, after reporting fourth-quarter results that weren't as bad as anyone expected. Although net income nosedived 57% from the previous year, and revenue fell 1%, its adjusted EPS skipped past Wall Street's expectations by $0.05. Pitney Bowes' management also indicated that the decline in recurring revenue streams is leveling off. This may be good enough to keep Pitney Bowes' dividend at current levels for a few more quarters, but I'm still leery of a business that hasn't shown demonstrable growth in years.
Optical products maker JDS Uniphase lit up the room -- up 17% -- after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter results, and receiving an analyst upgrade. For the quarter, JDS reported a nearly 5% increase in year-over-year revenue, to $429.4 million, and a profit of $0.18, handily beating the $424.2 million and $0.14 that Wall Street had projected. Better yet, JDS also forecast upcoming third-quarter revenue of $405 million to $425 million, a bit higher than the range of $403.6 million to $422.8 million currently found on Yahoo! Finance. No complaints were uttered from shareholders when Needham & Co. upgraded JDS to a "buy," either. With AT&T and Sprint Nextel looking to spend on 4G LTE expansion, JDS Uniphase is well positioned to benefit.
Finally, infant formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition certainly found the formula for success, rocketing 11.5% higher after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Mead Johnson's net income rose 57%, to an adjusted $0.72, as revenue climbed 8%, to $981.1 million. Both figures trumped Wall Street's expectation of $0.68 and $954.3 million in revenue. Asia and Latin America proved the big winners, with sales rising 10% in those regions compared to just 4% in North America. Mead Johnson's 2013 forecast was a bit lighter than estimates at $3.22-$3.30; however, its estimates are usually conservative.
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