Why Mead Johnson Nutrition, U.S. Steel, and Nokia Jumped Today

By Dan Caplinger Markets Fool.com

The stock market didn't make major moves on Thursday, and the Dow finished down just six points after a quiet day of trading. Other major market benchmarks were similarly serene, and most market participants pointed to ongoing factors like solid U.S. economic growth and geopolitical tension in balancing the stock market's overall prospects.

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Yet some individual stocks had extremely good news today, and Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE: MJN), U.S. Steel (NYSE: X), and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) 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: Mead Johnson.

Mead Johnson whets an acquirer's appetite

Mead Johnson Nutrition soared 21% after reports surfaced that U.K. consumer products company Reckitt Benckiser is strongly considering a deal to acquire the baby formula manufacturer. According to Reckitt, it is looking at a potential deal that would value Mead Johnson at roughly $16.7 billion, with shareholders receiving $90 per share in cash. Reckitt is best known in the U.S. for its Lysol cleaning fluids and Dr. Scholl insoles and foot care products, but a deal would potentially make the U.K-based company more of a player in the global market. Some investors believe that Mead Johnson could get competing offers, although combinations with companies that have more overlap in their operations could potentially raise more antitrust issues than a Reckitt purchase would.

U.S. Steel gets a favorable review

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U.S. Steel climbed 11% in the wake of getting an upgrade from analysts at Merrill Lynch. The steel producer's stock had lost ground on Wednesday despite a reasonably good quarterly financial report that included much higher profits than expected as well as a favorable cost outlook going forward. The analyst company raised its rating on U.S. Steel to buy, as it now believes a recovery in the steel market is likely to keep fundamentals in the industry moving higher. Moreover, yesterday's pullback gave Merrill a chance to buy at a slightly lower price, and the analyst believes that the stock could hit $40 per share in the indefinite future.

Nokia makes a connection

Finally, Nokia gained 5%. The telecommunications network provider said that its fourth-quarter profit was down sharply from year-ago levels, but sales doubled in the wake of its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. The past year has featured a lot of change for Nokia, which has sought to keep its costs down in order to compete more effectively in a tough industry environment. CEO Rajeev Suri was pleased with the results, and more importantly, Nokia believes that it can continue to make incremental gains and perform even better in 2017 and beyond.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.