Stocks Waver To Lower Close; Akamai Jumps After Hours

By VINCENT MAO, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Stocks gave up early gains, wavered and finally closed modestly lower Wednesday amid more earnings reports, upbeat housing data and Fed speak.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell 0.3%. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.2%. NYSE volume fell from Tuesday’s level, but Nasdaq trade rose, according to early data.

After the close, Akamai Technologies (AKAM) gained 5% after reporting Q3 earnings and sales above expectations. Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) was also higher in extended trading despite reporting mixed results. Earnings matched views, but sales missed.

Earlier Wednesday, big caps Boeing (BA) and AT&T (T) delivered quarterly earnings that beat expectations. New-home sales jumped to a 2-1/2-year high in September. And the Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady and sees the economy growing moderately.

Tractor Supply (TSCO) was essentially unchanged after it reported better-than-expected earnings and sales that matched estimates. The company also lifted its full-year profit outlook, but that was shy of expectations.

Nationstar Mortgage (NSM) fell as much as 21% intraday, but pared its loss to 10% and closed above its 50-day line. The mortgage servicer lost out on an auction for a unit of the bankrupt Residential Capital. Ocwen Financial (OCN) and Walter Investment Management Corp. won with a $3 billion bid. Wednesday marked Nationstar’s busiest volume since its March 8 debut.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) tumbled 4% in massive trade despite easily beating Wall Street’s Q3 profit expectations on strong sales of its lone drug, Soliris, which is used to treat rare blood diseases. The firm reported earnings of 60 cents a share, up 62% from a year ago. Sales jumped 44% to $294.1 million. Views were for 47 cents on revenue of $293.2 million. Alexion also raised its full-year outlook Wednesday.

The stock fell for the fifth straight session Wednesday and breached its 200-day line. It slumped more than 8% below its most recent buy point at 110.06 earlier this week.

Lumber Liquidators (LL) gapped up and bolted 11% gain in more than four times average trade. Before the open, the flooring retailer delivered Q3 earnings that leapt 77% to 46 cents a share, trouncing analysts’ consensus estimate of 34 cents. Revenue also bounded past forecasts with a 19% gain. The company lifted full-year sales and earnings guidance. Lumber Liquidators gapped above a 54.10 buy point from a five-week flat base.

PolyOne (POL) gapped up and rallied 9% after a mixed Q3 earnings report. The maker of plastics, resins and additives reported a profit of 33 cents a share, up 27% from a year earlier. It beat views by 2 cents. Revenue edged up about 1% to $740.2 million vs. views of $793.14 million.

The company also said it had agreed to pay $246 million to acquire peer Spartech (SEH). PolyOne expects the deal to close in the first quarter. Spartech shares jolted 60% higher on the news. The stock opened above a 17.63 buy point from a five-week flat base.

Amazon.com (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Biogen Idec (BIIB), Celgene (CELG), NetSuite (N), SolarWinds (SWI) and Under Armour (UA) are among some notable companies reporting earnings Thursday. Data on weekly jobless claims, durable goods and pending-home sales will also be out Thursday.

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