What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Demitrios Kalogeropoulos Markets Fool.com

Image source: Getty Images.

Continue Reading Below

Stocks posted gains on Friday, even if the the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI)failed to cross the 20,000-point barrier. Both that index and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC)finished higher by more than 0.3%.

Today's stock market:

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

0.32%

64.51

S&P 500

0.35%

7.98

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Gold prices reverted back to their post-election slump, which helped spur large declines for both the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEMKT: GDX)(down 4%) and the highly leveraged Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT: NUGT)(down 10%).

Continue Reading Below

As for individual stocks, Greenbrier (NYSE: GBX) and PriceSmart (NASDAQ: PSMT) stood out with large price jumps.

Greenbrier's solid start to the year

Greenbrier shares soared 16% following the freight railcar manufacturer's quarterly earnings announcement. As expected, revenue declined sharply as a contracting industry forced far fewer deliveries. However, Greenbrier performed much better on the top line than Wall Street had assumed. Sales stopped at $552 million, compared to the consensus analyst target of $490 million. "Greenbrier's fiscal 2017 is off to a strong start," CEO William Furman said in a press release, "with solid financial performance during a demanding first quarter."

The reduced sales footprint sent earnings slumping, with net income diving 65% to just $25 million. However, a sharp focus on profitability paid off. Greenbrier's gross margin ticked up and operating cash flow stayed in solidly positive territory.

Furman and his team reiterated their full-year outlook calling for 15,000 deliveries that should produce revenue of $2.2 billion at the midpoint of guidance. The current backlog figure of 26,000 units suggests it can hit that full-year figure even as production rates fall by about 25%. Looking further out, the company aims to boost investments in international markets like Brazil while working to keep its core U.S. business as profitable as possible.

PriceSmart shows progress in Colombia

PriceSmart, which operates subscription-style warehouse clubs in Latin America and the Caribbean, jumped 6% after announcing improving quarterly business trends. Its comparable-store sales growth pace was flat, but that was good enough to mark an increase over each of the prior two quarters. Gross profit margin, operating income, and membership income metrics all improved over the prior period as well.

Image source: Getty Images.

The main factor behind that broad rebound was an end to a foreign currency issue that's been pinching results for almost two years. The Colombian peso, which plunged in value by 22% last fiscal year, held steady against the U.S. dollar this quarter. That stability allowed PriceSmart to book higher sales, profits, and membership income in what has become its biggest market. In fact, both customer traffic and average spending jumped by double digits in Colombia. "We have seen an improving sales picture in all of our warehouse clubs" in the market, executives explained in the 10-Q report.

PriceSmart faces new struggles, this time in Trinidad where a weak economy helped push warehouse sales down by 5% last quarter. However, a rebound in the Colombian segment, should it gain steam, would easily offset a continued slump in smaller segments like Trinidad since it would allow the retailer to raise both its product prices and its membership fees. Executives have avoided price hikes in both areas through the entire currency devaluation episode in a bid to grow market share but may finally have room to start raising them again.

10 stocks we like better than PriceSmart
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and PriceSmart wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of January 4, 2017

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends PriceSmart and The Greenbrier Companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.