What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Demitrios Kalogeropoulos Markets Fool.com

Image source: Getty Images.

Continue Reading Below

Stocks fell on Monday, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) indexes finishing lower by more than 0.25%.

Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

(0.38%)

(76.42)

S&P 500

(0.35%)

(8.08)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Volatility in gold and oil prices helped commodity-based ETFs attract heavy trading. Lower oil prices sentVelocityShares 3X Long Crude Oil ETN (NYSEMKT: UWTI)down over 5% as a small rebound in gold produced a 1% uptick for theDirexion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT: NUGT).

Continue Reading Below

As for individual stocks, Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI) and Global Payments (NYSE: GPN) stood out with large price swings spurred by their quarterly earnings announcements before the opening bell.

Acuity Brands' dimmer outlook

Shares of lighting expert Acuity Brands plummeted by as much as 19% before climbing back to a 15% daily loss after the company announced surprisingly weak earnings results. Demand was lower than expected for its fiscal first quarter, as sales rose just 16% to $851 million and earnings jumped 19% to $1.86 per share. Consensus estimates were looking for higher numbers on both the top and bottom lines, given that the company had last posted a 22% quarterly revenue increase and 38% higher earnings.

The slowdown was pegged by management to several short-term factors, including production challenges around new product launches and lower growth in the lighting market. Still, Acuity emphasized the positive by noting that the company increased market share despite the weakening selling conditions. "We were pleased to deliver record first-quarter financial performance and we believe the company continued to meaningfully outperform the overall growth rate of our end markets," CEO Vernon Nagel said in a press release.

Nagel and his team see some of these challenges continuing into the current quarter. In fact, order volume for the month of December grew at an unusually slow pace. Wall Street hates uncertainty, especially in the context of slowing growth. But long-term investors might want to take another look at this stock after Monday's highly reactive price cut.

Global Payments speeds up

Global Payments stock shot up 7% to a new high after it posted strong earnings results. Its payment technology services, anchored by the OpenEdge and Ezidebit solutions along with the newly acquired Heartland business, booked rising growth rates across all of its geographic markets.

Overall revenue spiked 58% to $817 million, edging consensus estimates that were calling for $803 million. The company's $0.89 per share of profit also beat expectations as operating margin ticked higher.

Image source: Getty Images.

"The strong momentum from our first quarter accelerated in the second quarter of fiscal 2017," CEO Jeff Sloan said in a press release. "We delivered double digit organic growth across our key markets," he continued. By comparison, organic growth was in the high single digits last quarter.

Global Payments' official forecast calls for an accelerating expansion pace in the year ahead, with sales spiking 22% to $3.4 billion. Adjusted earnings, which are being pushed higher by rising profitability, should increase by as much as 27%, executives said. Finally, the company boosted its estimate for synergies from its recent Heartland merger by $10 million to bring the total expected annual savings to $135 million. With the demand picture improving, and with the business still set to benefit as Heartland margins climb toward Global Payment's profitability, it's no surprise that investors sent the stock over $80 per share for the first time on Monday.

10 stocks we like better than Global Payments
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 Global Payments 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 Global Payments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.