How Archer Daniels Midland, National Oilwell Varco, and Southern Copper Set New Highs Today

On Monday, the stock market suffered a post-holiday hangover, with major-market benchmarks giving up ground as investors seemed content to consolidate some of their gains from last week. Without a huge drop, however, plenty of individual stocks continued their upward trajectories and set new yearly highs, with more than 100 issues setting new marks on the New York Stock Exchange alone. Among them were Archer Daniels Midland , National Oilwell Varco , and Southern Copper , all of which managed to reach new heights and escape the day with at least modest gains.

Archer Daniels Midland roared ahead by 1.5% to an almost seven-year high after the agricultural giant spent 2.3 billion euros, or more than $3.1 billion at current exchange rates, to buy Switzerland's Wild Flavors, which makes a variety of natural flavors for companies selling food and drinks. For Archer Daniels Midland, the move adds to the company's existing flavor business, which ADM has said it wants to emphasize as a growth prospect for the long-term future. Archer Daniels Midland also pointed to some of its previous acquisition, which it argues will fit well with the Wild Flavors purchase and encourage more dependable earnings growth for years to come.

Source: National Oilwell Varco.

National Oilwell Varco inched ahead 0.2%, but it was enough to send the energy services and products company to a fresh all-time record high. What made today's move especially remarkable is that the energy sector generally hasn't kept up with the rest of the stock market over the past couple of weeks, as investors begin to worry about the potential impact of sustained higher gasoline prices on economic growth and spending behavior. Yet from a fundamental standpoint, National Oilwell Varco continues to see a big appetite for its equipment, with the company sporting a huge order backlog that promises to keep Varco busy for years to come. A recent spinoff has allowed Varco to focus more on its higher-margin businesses, and that has the capacity to help the stock climb even further if conditions in the industry remain good.

Southern Copper rose almost 2% as the copper producer got a vote of confidence from an analyst firm this morning. Many investors have been concerned that the copper miner faces higher costs from its mining activities, even as demand in copper hasn't risen at a healthy enough rate to support sharp increase in prices. Nevertheless, BMO Capital believes that future price increases could be in the near future, and Southern Copper's efforts to cut costs could well help avoid the margin compression that more bearish investors fear.

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