Why First Solar, Core-Mark Holding, and Craft Brew Alliance Jumped Today

By Dan Caplinger Markets Fool.com

Friday was a downbeat day for the stock market, with major market benchmarks easing slightly downward to finish the week. The Dow fell just nine points, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell a bit more in percentage terms. Bad news from a major player in the tech industry weighed on market sentiment, but that didn't dispel very much of the positive momentum that markets have shown in past weeks.

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Some individual stocks also helped limit the market's overall losses, and First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), Core-Mark Holding (NASDAQ: CORE), and Craft Brew Alliance (NASDAQ: BREW) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.


Image source: First Solar.

First Solar shines brighter

First Solar rose 8% as investors in the stock responded to a couple of factors supporting the solar company. First, activity in the options market pointed to bullish speculation among short-term traders, and that helped give shares a boost. More broadly, the fact that crude oil prices have managed to sustain their move above $50 per barrel suggests that fossil-fuel energy markets could have further to run higher, and that makes alternative energy sources like First Solar's look more attractive to energy users, by comparison. Given how far stocks in the solar industry, in general, have fallen, First Solar has much more ground to regain if it can get its business to perform fundamentally better in the months to come.

Core-Mark makes a great deal

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Core-Mark Holding Company climbed 9% in the wake of a new supply agreement with a major customer. Thursday afternoon, Core-Mark announced that it had reached an agreement with Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) to serve 530 Neighborhood Markets and Supercenter locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. The food distributor said that it expected candy to be the largest product category under the agreement, but Core-Mark will also supply tobacco and certain types of snack foods to the big-box retailer, as well. With a start date of May 2017 for the agreement, Core-Mark believes that its candy sales will jump 40% to 50%.

Wal-Mart will bring a new dimension to Core-Mark's business, and CEO Thomas Perkins noted that "this strategic partnership between our two companies will create a supply chain with more frequent deliveries than offered to these stores today." If the deal works well, then Core-Mark might be able to expand throughout the country and get even more growth.

Brewing up a beer partnership

Finally, Craft Brew Alliance rose 9%. The craft-beer specialist announced Thursday afternoon that it would enter into a strategic partnership with Wynwood Brewing Company, a Miami-based craft brewery business. Under the deal, Wynwood will be able to take advantage of Craft Brew's production capabilities and sales and marketing infrastructure, and it hopes that it can therefore expand into a larger portion of the Florida beer market.

For Craft Brew, the partnership will give it almost a one-quarter stake in Wynwood Brewing, and the two businesses foresee an expansion of local production and Wynwood's tap room to go along with it. Craft Brew CEO Andy Thomas said that the deal adds an important regional presence on the Gulf Coast, and that will be useful as the company seeks to gain national prominence in the fast-growing craft-beer market.

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