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Consumer Stocks Near Break-Even Mark Ahead of Closing Bell; RiceBran Tech Rises After Cheerios Goes GMO-Free

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WMT -0.32%

MCD +0.24%

DIS -0.13%

CVS +0.20%

KO -0.42%

Consumer stocks were slightly lower with shares of consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 declining less than 0.1% while shares of consumer discretionary firms in the S&P 500 were sliding about 0.1%.

In company news, RiceBran Technologies ( RIBT ) rose briskly Friday as investors embraced shares of the maker of natural foods after General Mills ( GIS ) late yesterday said it plans to produce its Cheerios breakfast cereal with no genetically modified ingredients.

Citing consumer demand, GIS Thursday said it has been making its original-flavor Cheerios without GMOs for the past several weeks. The cereal will now be labeled as "Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients," the company said, although it did not say when those boxes will reach shelves.

RIBT produces and distributes a variety of products made from rice bran grown in the United States, Brazil and other countries. There is no apparent link between the companies at this time although some investors may see the GIS decision to keep genetically modified products out of one of its more iconic brands as ultimately benefiting "natural foods" suppliers like RIBT.

RIBT shares were up 6% at $5.50 each shortly before the closing bell, climbing as high as $5.74 earlier in the session. Volume was particularly heavy, with nearly 440,000 shares changing hands with less than an hour left in the trading day, or more than 11 times its average daily volume the past three months.

GIS recently was up 0.1% at $49.43 a share.

In other sector news,

(+) HTZ, Shares rise to an all-time high after CNBC reports activist investor Carl Icahn purchased between 30 mln to 40 mln shares of the car-rental company, prompting management this week to adopt a shareholder's right plan.

(-) DM, Stock falls to an all-time low after the publishing and business-services firm hires a chief restructuring officer. The company also received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange its stock price had fallen below its $1 minimum threshold for a continued listing.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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