By Carlos Guillen
After yesterday's rather sharp drop in stocks, today investors are breathing a sigh of relief as some positive comments from Cyprus coupled with positive financial results from the likes of Nike, Tiffany, and Micron have come together to lift equities, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up over 70 points during the first half of the trading session.
Clearly, the situation in Cyprus remains shaky, and this has been serving to put pressure on markets around the world during this entire week. While the Cypriot economy is very small in comparison to virtually all euro zone members, the actions taken at this point of the game in Cyprus can set a precedent not expected by most, and so far it is not looking good as a critical deadline is looming on Monday that could result in the European Central Bank withdrawing support from the country's banking system. It is becoming apparent that the perception that the euro zone would do whatever it took to keep the group in one piece is now beginning to dwindle.
However, there was a ray of light at the end of the tunnel, as the deputy leader of the Cyprus Democratic party said they were very close to establishing a deal with the euro zone that would allow the nation to get the bailout they so desperately need. Although details are still lacking, it was said that Cyprus was close to a compromise that would let parliament reverse its rejection of a rescue package offered by euro zone partners a week ago under which holders of bank deposits would suffer losses. At the moment all eyes are on Cyprus to see if a deal actually comes to fruition.
On other encouraging items, retailers Nike and Tiffany are serving to give indications that perhaps consumers around the world are doing better than many expected. Shares of Nike are up more the 11 percent as the company reported better than expected earnings per share, amid higher global shoes and apparel sales. Tiffany is up over 2.5 percent after the high-end jewelry retailer reported better-than-expected earnings and gave an upbeat earnings and revenue growth outlook for the current year.
On the technology front, Micron Technology is trading up over 12 percent after the memory chip maker reported better-than-expected revenue and improved margins, serving to offset the wider-than-anticipated loss.
In all, despite all the instability this week, markets are holding fairly well, with the Dow just seven points below last Friday's closing level.
By David Urani
Check the ups at Nike (NYSE:NKE), which is leaping more than 10% on the back of a good 3Q result. The company beat by $0.06 on the bottom line, with revenues in line with consensus.
These days you can still run into huge lines outside shoe stores whenever a new Air Jordan sneaker comes out, and you can see that reflected in total footwear sales which were up 9% year over year, while apparel was up 7%. In North America the results are particularly strong, with footwear up 15% and apparel up 22%. That being said, the company continues to struggle in China and Japan, where sales were down 9% and 11%, respectively. However, the company is focused on realigning its inventory in China and sales themselves may be accelerating.
Despite the oversupply in China, overall gross margin was still able to increase 30 basis points on pricing and decreased materials costs, and this quarter is looking like it may have been an inflection point for previously weaker margins. Another one of the highlights of the quarter was new orders, which rose by 6% year over year to $9.9 billion. In the meantime the company maintains a rock solid balance sheet with which it continues to put cash into an innovative product pipeline and store remodelings which are posting much higher sales growth than older ones.