Will Comey’s Testimony Impact the Markets?

By FinancialBuzz.com, Special for  USDR

Thursday morning the attention shifted to the testimony from former FBI Director, James Comey in front of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey’s testimony didn’t seem to have the affect some were anticipating. Investors seem to brush off the testimony, as all the stock market indexes near all-time record territory levels. The financial markets are partially driven by the president’s pro-market agenda, including promises of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation on various industries. While investors still hope for those policies to pass, their execution is now in question due to the drama coming out of the White House. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO), Michaels Companies Inc. (NASDAQ: MIK), Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:  URBN).

Make sure you check out last week’s Video Recap, as we reported LIVE from the floor of the NYSE in New York City:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9OUC7JkzOU.

Outside the political arena, the U.S. weekly jobless claims continue to show strength in the job market. The number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits fell in early June and remained near the lowest level in decades, suggesting the labor market was tightening despite a recent slowdown in job growth. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000 for the week ended June 3, the Labor Department announced on Thursday. The strong jobs data is a strong positive indicator of the U.S  economy.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) shares spiked more than 9% Thursday, reaching new all-time highs, after the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Maggie Wu revealed that the giant online retailer expects revenue growth of 45-49% in the 2018 fiscal year. Alibaba stock increased in value by about 56% year to date. The announcement indicates that demand for online shopping in China continues to grow. Alibaba is currently expanding its business operations, investing in new business lines in artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing. “The company will continue building its ecosystem based on data technology with core businesses supported by payment, logistics, data management platform and cloud,” Jefferies analyst, Jessie Guo wrote in an updated note to clients. As a result, shares of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) also climbed more than 10 percent. Yahoo still owns a 15 percent stake in Alibaba. In addition, news on late Wednesday announced that about 1,000 layoffs are planned at the combined Yahoo and AOL companies set to be bought by Verizon Communications Inc. also pushed the stock  higher.

Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) shares jumped more than 11% Monday during the extended hours session, after the manufacturer of recreational vehicles (RVs) released Q3 earnings for the 2017 fiscal year. The company reported a record third-quarter net income of $111.3 million, or $2.11 per diluted share, on record revenues of $2.02 billion for the third quarter ended April 30, 2017. Gross profit increased 45.5% to $293.8 million. “With the strong operating performance during the quarter and year to date, we have seen a significant increase in operating cash flow, which increased 26.2% to $182.8 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2017,” said Colleen Zuhl, Thor Senior Vice President and CFO. “During the third quarter, we invested approximately $28.5 million in capital projects, bringing our year to date investment in capital projects to $79.5 million. Total forecasted capital investments for the fiscal year remain at approximately $130 million as we expect to invest approximately $50 million in additional capital projects during the fourth quarter to meet the robust demand for our products as reflected in our record  backlogs.”

Michaels Companies Inc. (NASDAQ: MIK) shares fell more than 8% Tuesday during the pre-market trading. The arts and crafts specialty retailer reported net sales were $1.16 billion, flat with net sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2016. Sales from the operation of 12 additional stores (net of closures) was offset by a decline in comparable store sales. Comparable store sales decreased 1.2% driven by a decrease in average ticket. During the quarter, the Company opened three new Michaels stores and closed one Michaels store and five Aaron Brothers stores. Gross profit increased slightly 0.6% to $467.6 million, from $464.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2016. Net income increased 2.0% to $72.2 million, from $70.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2016. “I am encouraged with the improving trend in customer transactions this quarter, especially given the headwinds we faced as we anniversaried last year’s coloring trend,” said Chuck Rubin, Chairman and Chief Executive  Officer.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) shares fell about 9% Thursday morning, after the retailer provided a sales warning in a filing with U.S. securities regulators. The Company operates through two segments: Retail and Wholesale. The decline in Urban Outfitters’ retail segment net sales during the first quarter of fiscal 2018 was due to a decrease of $20.4 million, or 3.1%, in Retail segment comparable net sales, which includes direct-to-consumer channel, partially offset by an increase of $10.6 million in non-comparable net sales, including new store net sales. The company reported that thus far during the second quarter of fiscal 2018, comparable Retail segment net sales are high single-digit negative. Gross profit percentage for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 decreased to 31.5% of net sales, from 34.3% of net sales in the comparable quarter in fiscal 2017. Gross profit decreased to $239.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2018 from $261.9 million in the comparable quarter in fiscal  2017.

Make sure you check out last week’s Video Recap, as we reported LIVE from the floor of the NYSE in New York  City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9OUC7JkzOU.

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