Consumer stocks were moderately higher, with shares of consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 climbing less than 0.1%. Shares of consumer discretionary firms in the S&P 500 were ahead about 0.3%.
In company news, shares of Darden Restaurants Inc. ( DRI ) rose Tuesday after Clarence Otis late Monday said he was stepping down as chief executive officer of the restaurant company as soon as a permanent replacement can be identified and hired.
DRI shares were ahead almost 4% in recent trade at $46.71 apiece, earlier climbing to a session high of $46.86 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of $43.56 to $54.89 a share, declining slightly more than 4% over the past 12 months through Monday's close.
Otis also is relinquishing his role as board chairman, effective immediately, and the DRI board Monday selected Charles A. Ledsinger Jr. - currently the lead independent director on the panel - as non-executive chairman of the board. The company also said it plans to rework its corporate governance rules to separate the chairman and CEO roles.
DRI said Otis would continue serving as CEO through Dec. 31 unless his successor is appointed sooner. He also will remain a director on the 12-member DRI board for the time being, although he does not plan on standing for re-election at the company's annual shareholders meeting now scheduled for Sept. 30.
The company last night also the board plans to run a slate of nine independent members, including at least three nominees supported by Starboard Value LP, which has pressed for significant changes at the company while opposing the recent sale of its Red Lobster chain. The sides currently are discussing a possible settlement to stem Starboard's planned proxy contest to overturn the entire board although DRI said they have yet to reach a deal.
In other sector news,
(+) CPLA, (+11.0%) Sees Q3 revenue rising 1% to 2% over year-ago levels to a range of $101.7 mln to $102.7 mln, topping the Street view by at least $90,000. Q2 EPS of $0.72 per share misses by $0.13. Revenue rises 1.1% to $104.8 mln, beating by $510,000.
(-) HLF, (-11.1%) Q2 EPS of $1.55 misses by $0.02 per share. Revenue rises 7.1% over to $1.31 bln, trailing consensus by around $50 mln. Raises FY14 earnings outlook to $6.17 to $6.32 per share, in-line with Street expecting a $6.30 per share profit this year.
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