Why CSX, Oclaro, and Check Point Software Technologies Jumped Today

By Dan Caplinger Markets Fool.com

Thursday brought modest losses to the stock market, as the Dow dropped 72 points and other major market benchmarks fell between a quarter-percent and a third of a percent. Strong economic data suggested that the U.S. economy continues to fire on all cylinders, but that led to higher bond yields and fears that tightening monetary policy from the Federal Reserve could pose threats to growth during the rest of the year.

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Yet even amid nervous market sentiment, some stocks managed to gain ground. CSX (NASDAQ: CSX), Oclaro (NASDAQ: OCLR), and Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP) 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: CSX.

CSX chugs ahead

CSX jumped 23%, with many investors pointing to speculation that the railroad giant might be the target of takeover efforts. CSX reported somewhat disappointing fourth-quarter results on Tuesday afternoon, which included a 2% drop in net income and adjusted volume declines of 1%. However, the hard-hit coal segment improved from recent poor performance, and a positive outlook on some key industries suggested potential upside for the railroad.

Yet in an unusual turn of events, Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) CEO Hunter Harrison quit his job with the Canadian railroad and said that he would seek to work with an activist investor to get hired at CSX. That led to an analyst upgrade from Morgan Stanley, but it's far from certain how CSX will respond, or whether the move will lead to anything.

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Oclaro clearly sees a strong future

Fiber-optics specialist Oclaro climbed 17% after announcing preliminary results for its fiscal second quarter. The company said that sales would come in at the top of its prior guidance range, and adjusted operating income would be about $36 million, well above previous predictions of $22 million to $26 million.

Oclaro saw particular strength in the 100G market, and strong margin figures, a rich product mix, and solid internal execution to maximize growth opportunities contributed to the winning quarter. As CEO Greg Dougherty put it, "Our excellent preliminary results for the December quarter once again demonstrated the strength of Oclaro's products in the markets we serve," and the optical components manufacturer believes that upward momentum could continue into the future.

Check Point secures gains

Finally, Check Point Software Technologies picked up 8%. The maker of network security products announced its fourth-quarter results Thursday morning, posting a 6% rise in sales and earnings per share of $1.46, up more than 20% from the year-ago period. Moreover, Check Point gave investors encouraging guidance for 2017 results, including expected adjusted earnings of $5.05 to $5.25 per share and revenue of $1.85 billion to $1.9 billion.

Both figures exceeded the consensus forecast among investors, and it showed the impact of extremely strong growth in the mobile and threat-prevention areas. With cloud computing increasing risk levels for many clients, Check Point's products are likely to see even greater demand going forward.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Check Point Software Technologies. The Motley Fool recommends CSX. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.