After Market: Investors See Alcoa as a Shiny Harbinger of Profits

Alcoa rallied Wednesday after reporting its second quarter results Tuesday after the bell, fueling hope on Wall Street that the earnings season will be strong. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 78 points, while the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) was up 27 points, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) picked up 9 points.

Alcoa's (AA) report unofficially marks the beginning of each earnings season, and the aluminum giant impressed investors, rising more than 5.5 percent. Its cost cutting efforts paid off, and earnings and revenue topped expectations. So far this year, the stock is up 47 percent.

Also handing in earnings scorecards were:
  • AeroVironment (AVAV), a drone-maker. It posted a profit in its last quarter and raised its guidance and the stock rallied 13 percent.
  • Restaurant and food company Bob Evans (BOBE), which is blaming the weather for its lowered earnings forecast for the year. That disappointed investors and the stock slipped almost 4.5 percent.
  • Container Store (TCS) earnings weren't impressive. The company's full-year guidance is also below consensus and its problems aren't just weather-related. The stock fell 8 percent.
Gigamon (GIMO) really tanked, falling 32 percent. The networking hardware firm lowered its revenue guidance ahead of earnings out on July 24. It said it had difficulty closing deals.

GPS products maker Garmin (GRMN) was among the biggest losers, down 4.5 percent. It was downgraded by Pacific Crest. The worry is that Apple's iWatch, which is expected to appear soon, could cut even further into Garmin business.

Financial services firm D.A. Davidson initiated coverage of F5 Networks (FFIV) with a buy rating. F5, which competes with Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Juniper Networks (JNPR), was up more than 2 percent.

Airline stocks rebounded from some heavy selling over the past few sessions. Delta Air Lines (DAL) gained almost 1.5 percent, Southwest Airlines (LUV) was up almost 2 percent, JetBlue (JBLU) added 1.5 percent and American Airlines (AAL) was up more than 4 percent.

Momentum stocks that sold off in Tuesday's session rebounded, too. Facebook (FB) was up 3.5 percent, Twitter (TWTR) added more than 1.5 percent, TripAdvisor (TRIP) rose 2 percent.

Biotech king Celgene (CELG) came out with bad news: A drug it was working on to fight a type of arthritis fell short of its goals in clinical trials, but the stock gained 2 percent anyway. Analysts said the drug's success wasn't vital to its business.

And finally, Reynolds American (RAI) rose more than 2 percent on reports British American Tobacco wants to buy the portion of the company it doesn't already own. That would certainly upend the deal it reportedly is discussing with Lorillard (LO). Lorillard closed slightly higher.

-Produced by Karina Huber.

What to Watch Thursday:
  • The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, and the Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for May.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Family Dollar (FDO)
  • PriceSmart (PSMT)
  • Progressive (PGR)
The 7 Best Things to Buy in July
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After Market: Investors See Alcoa as a Shiny Harbinger of Profits
It's time to hit the thrift stores, consignment shops and furniture outlets. Now that most people have done their spring cleaning and renovating, their used furniture is on the market. That means a hefty supply, plus low prices since stores only have so much space. You can also find discounted new furniture in July, because the next year's models arrive in stores in early August. Don't be afraid to try to negotiate on prices. It often works.
Electronics -- computers and tablets specifically -- see decreases in price starting in early July. These prices continue to drop as the school year gets closer, and best way to stay on top of the hottest deals is to sign up for e-newsletters from retailers. Remember to take advantage of company and educational discounts that may be available to you, and to negotiate for free or discounted accessories.
Bottled water goes on sale throughout July as a lure to get you into stores. it also gets purchased more frequently throughout the summer -- the natural result of barbecue and picnic season, when people entertain and spend more time outdoors. So if you drink bottled water year-round, stock up now.
If you can manage, hold off purchasing your new grill until after the Fourth of July, when mark-downs approach 50 percent off. This applies to grilling accessories, too, including grill baskets and utensils. Also, check consignment shops and thrift stores. Many people buy new grills for the Fourth of July and donate or sell their old ones.
Speaking of grilling, among the hottest buys during July are condiments for burgers and hot dogs: mustard, ketchup, relish, sour cream, sauerkraut, mayonnaise and pickles, etc. Buy in bulk, and pair in-store specials with coupons for super-low prices on these summer must-haves.
If you're in the market for a sweet new pair of jeans, July is the best time to buy them. Few people buy jeans during one of the hottest months of the year, so retailers put them on sale to move them. Stores also get new jeans in the late summer in anticipation of fall shopping season, so they're eager to sell old ones to make room for new duds.
Formal suits are also seldom purchased during the middle of summer. Consequently, many suit retailers will hold sales to keep business moving. If you have an upcoming formal wedding to attend -- or if you simply need new suits for work and special occasions -- July is the best time to buy.
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