Stocks were mixed on Thursday, with major indexes attempting to recoup yesterday's losses as the White House downplayed concerns over an impending trade war.
Speaking to CNBC this morning, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, argued that the U.S. is not trying to provoke other countries into a global trade war with President Trump's planned steel and aluminum tariffs. Rather, he says, the Trump administration is "simply defending [the nation] against what's been an unfair relationship for many, many years."
To be fair, the assertion appears to contradict Trump's own words on Twitter earlier this month, when he insisted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) gained about a half percent, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) edged ever so slightly into negative territory at the close.
Today's stock market
Data source: Yahoo! Finance.
Consumer staples set the pace for today's losers, and the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLP) fell 0.7%. But industrials stocks rebounded today, with the Industrial Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEMKT: XLI) up 0.3%.
As for individual stocks, encouraging announcements from Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) and 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) sent shares of both companies soaring.
Barnes & Noble's dividend, impending growth
Shares of Barnes & Noble climbed 6.3% today after the bookseller confirmed its dividend and issued selected financial guidance for next fiscal year.
Late yesterday, Barnes & Noble announced that its board has voted to maintain the company's quarterly dividend at $0.15 per share. Given the stock's recent declines, that equates to a juicy annual yield of roughly 11.7%.
In addition, Barnes & Noble told investors to expect fiscal 2019 EBITDA in the range of $175 million to $200 million. Year-over-year growth would be driven by "improved sales trends and expense reductions," Barnes & Noble says -- assuming it meets its current guidance for fiscal 2018 adjusted EBITDA in the range of $140 million to $160 million.
Barnes & Noble promised more details when it announces fiscal 2018 year-end results in late June. But in the meantime, with shares trading near an all-time low just prior to the announcement, it's no surprise to see the stock climbing higher today.
3D Systems prints a fantastic quarter
Shares of 3D Systems climbed 5.8% today after the additive manufacturing specialist announced strong fourth-quarter 2017 results . Quarterly revenue grew 6.9% year over year to $177.3 million, and translated to adjusted earnings of $5.3 million, or $0.05 per share. But analysts, on average, were only expecting adjusted earnings of $0.01 per share on revenue of $156.4 million.
CEO Vyomesh Joshi credited growth to the healthcare, materials, software, and on-demand manufacturing markets, and to the company's "more balanced regional execution" during the quarter. 3D Systems also saw sales of its 3D printers arrive roughly flat from the same year-ago period -- a particularly encouraging development considering 3D printer sales have endured steady declines for the past three years.
"We made progress in many areas this year, from better analytics, processes and operational cadence to IT infrastructure and supply chain optimization," added CFO John McMullen. "We continue to be focused on the decisions and actions needed to drive appropriate cost structure, while at the same time, positioning the company for long-term growth."
It's worth noting the company opted not to provide specific guidance for 2018. But I think investors are right to celebrate what appears to be a stabilization of 3D Systems' business. If it can sustain this momentum in the coming quarters, I suspect today's gains are just the beginning of a longer-term trend.
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