Personal Finance

What Happened in the Stock Market Today

Outside the New York Stock Exchange

Stocks spent nearly all of Friday's trading session in the red before climbing back to just barely positive territory at the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) indexes each finished higher by less than 0.25%.

Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow 0.02% 4.28
S&P 500 0.17% 3.94

Data source: Yahoo Finance.

Financials were among the most heavily traded stocks, but they barely budged as a group. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLF) was flat for the day. Volatility around gold prices , meanwhile, punished owners of the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT: NUGT) , which dropped nearly 5%.

Outside the New York Stock Exchange

Image source: Getty Images.

Individual stocks making big moves included Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB) and TrueCar (NASDAQ: TRUE) , which both posted quarterly results before the start of trading.

Campbell Soup's growth slows

Campbell Soup shares gave up 6.5% to slip into negative territory on the year after the consumer foods specialist posted surprisingly weak fourth-quarter earnings results. Organic sales declined by 2% to mark a further deceleration from the prior quarter's 1% drop.

A hot bowl of soup.

Image source: Getty Images.

The slump was driven by market share losses in the Campbell Fresh division that sells carrots, refrigerated beverages, and salad dressings. "I am not satisfied with our sales performance this quarter," CEO Denise Morrison said in a press release. Because of the weakening pace of demand, Morrison and her team no longer believe the segment will return to growth this fiscal year, as they had predicted in late November.

Campbell's broader 2017 goals remain in place, though. The company still expects revenue to hold flat for the year as adjusted earnings rise by as much as 5% to $3.09 per share. Softening growth will hurt profits, but executives have ramped up their cost-cutting efforts to fully offset that headwind. That's how gross margin rose this quarter despite higher supply chain costs, inflation, and price cuts. For Campbell to hit those targets, investors will want to see improving organic growth trends through the second half of the fiscal year.

TrueCar's aggressive forecast

TrueCar raced higher by 8.5% to bring the stock's trailing-12-month gain to 160% as the online car-selling platform announced accelerating sales and profit gains for the fourth quarter. Revenue improved 17%, compared to 4% in the prior quarter thanks to a 20% spike in unit sales to 219,000. That result easily beat management's early November forecast of roughly 207,000 sales.

Adjusted earnings also advanced past their target, which pushed profitability higher than expected. "[W]e are excited about reaccelerating our top-line growth while also improving our margins," CEO Chip Perry said in a press release.

The company remained in the red, but improved its annual net loss to a $41.7 million pace from $64.9 million in 2015. TrueCar's biggest financial win was bringing its operating expenses down significantly, which allowed it to boost investments in areas like marketing and tech development while improving its cost structure.

Perry and his team say they have a clear path toward double-digit unit and revenue growth for the future. And they backed that optimistic reading up with some hard numbers. Unit sales are expected to come in at a midpoint of 925,000 this year, up 15%, as adjusted earnings weigh in at a midpoint of $22 million, or 46% above this past year's result.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends TrueCar. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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


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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