Dow Surges 188 Points as Disney Works Its Magic

Dow Surges 188 Points as Disney Works Its Magic

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.

Thus far in 2014, the stock market has been characterized by fear, talk of a bubble, worries over emerging markets, and chatter about slowing growth in China. It's quite a contrast to the happy-go-lucky days of 2013, when stocks posted their best year since the '90s as the Federal Reserve continued pumping money into the economy, and corporate profits reached new highs. But today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average put on its best 2013 impression, soaring 188 points, or 1.2%, to log its best day of the young year.

Fueling the blue chip index's gains, Walt Disney stock soared 5.3%, ending as the Dow's best performer by a long shot. Yesterday, Disney was also a standout performer, although its 1% gains Wednesday look paltry by comparison. Today's surge comes after the iconic entertainment behemoth crushed Wall Street's earnings expectations, as ESPN's steady growth and the blockbuster success of the animated feature film Frozen propelled shares higher.

Beleaguered retailer J.C. Penney also ended as one of Wall Street's best performers, as shares staged an 8.4% rally Thursday. While we may be tempted to award J.C. Penney a golf clap for its showing today, the company is hardly worthy of applause at this point. Remember, it's not an admirable feat to gain 8% in a day when the stock has lost 70% in a year, as this one has. Shares were merely lifted by the overall bullishness of the market today, not because the business itself achieved any remarkable goal, or posted an astounding quarter. In fact, the stock plummeted earlier this week as same-store sales during the holiday period advanced by about 2%, far less than the 4.1% Wall Street was hoping for.

Wall Street certainly wasn't hoping for the announcement Roundy's gave on Monday, when the Midwest grocer warned investors of its plans to sell additional shares. This revelation helped send shares down more than 16% in the last five days, as investors brace for the increased supply of Roundy's common stock. Today's 2.8% drop follows yesterday's 4.4% slide. That said, there's a silver lining to all this: Roundy's is using the money it raises from the share issuances to fund expansion in Chicago, which should be a long-term plus for shareholders.

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John Divine has the following options: long January 2015 $10 calls on J.C. Penney Company. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool recommends 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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