For a fifth-straight day, it appears that nothing will stand in the way of the broad-based S&P 500 and another all-time record close.
As we've witnessed in previous days, better-than-expected earnings from a vast majority of companies within the index are having the greatest impact on sending the market higher. In addition, news from the Mortgage Brokers Association showed that mortgage applications rose a robust 7% this week as 30-year mortgage rates dipped to their lowest level since December. If anything, this continues to show that there's still scarcity in available homes, which is great news for homebuilders as long as they can keep supply under control.
For the day, the S&P 500 finished higher by 6.73 points (0.41%) to close at 1,632.69, its fifth record close in a row. Earnings were once again the primary driver behind the three top performers within the S&P 500.
Leading the pack was video game developer Electronic Arts , which soared 17.1% after reporting its fourth-quarter results and issuing upbeat guidance for the upcoming fiscal year. For the quarter, EA delivered EPS of only $0.55 as revenue rose 6% to $1.04 billion. While revenue topped by a hair, EPS missed the mark. It was, however, the company's bullish full-year forecast, which calls for EPS of $1.20 compared to the current consensus EPS of $1.10, that has investors excited. With a new generation of consoles due out from Microsoft and Sony later this year, the gaming sector - EA included -- could be in for one of its best years in the past half-decade.
Natural and organic grocer Whole Foods Market tacked on 10.1% after it too reported strong second-quarter results and boosted its full-year guidance. During the quarter, sales increased by 13% overall, with same-store sales rising by nearly 7% as the trend toward a healthier lifestyle, which includes more nutritious foods, continues to push its sales higher. The company's $0.76 in EPS easily topped the $0.73 the Street had been expected. To top this off, Whole Foods bumped its full-year EPS forecast higher to $2.86-$2.89 and now expects sales growth of 12% to 14%. As long as obesity trends in the U.S. remain high, public opinion will keep driving plenty of traffic into Whole Foods' stores.
Finally, dialysis services provider DaVita Healthcare Partners also advanced 10.1% after reporting strong first-quarter results and disclosing a deal with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway , which could boost his company's stake in DaVita. For the first quarter, DaVita delivered a 53% increase in revenue to $2.83 billion as it delivered $1.84 in EPS. The Street had only expected DaVita to earn $1.79 in EPS on $2.77 billion in revenue. Furthermore, Berkshire Hathaway, which already owns 14% of DaVita, signed a standstill agreement with DaVita not to acquire more than 25% of the total outstanding shares of the company. Anytime Berkshire gets behind a company, shareholders are sure to take notice -- and this agreement could set DaVita up for a friendly takeover attempt in the future, as my Foolish colleague Brian Pacampara pointed out.
Is this the gaming sector rebound we've been waiting for?
While Activision and Microsoft have been taking the headlines when it comes to console gaming, investors following the gaming sector would do well to also keep tabs on Electronic Arts. We can help. The Motley Fool's special report breaks down the risks and opportunities facing the company to help you decide if EA is right for your portfolio. Click here to get your copy now.
The article Today's 3 Best Stocks originally appeared on Fool.com.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Whole Foods Market. It also owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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