Stock Market Today: A Huge Food Merger and a New Box Office King

Stock Market Today: A Huge Food Merger and a New Box Office King

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

Expect a flat start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to fall by just nine points at the opening bell. Even after a slight dip last week, stocks are up 22% on the year. Much of that gain has come from an expansion in valuation rather than a big boost in corporate profits, though: The S&P 500 is trading at 16.2 times projected earnings, above its longer-term average of 15.

With that bigger picture in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.

Sysco announced plans this morning for a $3.5 billion purchase of US Foods, a leading food distributor. The deal will be financed primarily with stock, with the cash component totaling just $500 million. The combined food company is expected to boast a massive $65 billion in annual sales, and the companies plan to save about $600 million a year by merging their operations. Sysco's stock is up 13% in premarket trading.

Next, notching a $31.6 million weekend box office result, Disney's Frozen grabbed the lead from Lions Gate's Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which also managed a solid $27 million in revenue. Both studios have to be pleased with their latest films: Catching Fire is on pace to trounce the original Hunger Games film's $691 million bounty, while Disney has shown that it can still produce hits 76 years after releasing its first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Lions Gate's stock is unchanged in premarket trading, but is roughly 5% lower since Catching Fire's release.

Finally, Kraft Foods shares are on the move after the company caught a stock upgrade from analysts at Morgan Stanley. Kraft has trailed the broader market this year following its spinoff from Mondelez, as it is struggling to boost sales in a flat market. Organic revenue was down 4% last quarter, for example, and sales volumes fell hard in its dressings and snacks business. However, Kraft's cost cuts gave it confidence to affirm its guidance for $3.58 a share in full-year earnings, and it still expects to book more than $1 billion in free cash flow for all of 2013. Kraft's stock is up 1.8% in premarket trading.

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Fool contributor Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Walt Disney and Mondelez International. The Motley Fool recommends Sysco and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. 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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