What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Demitrios Kalogeropoulos Markets Fool.com

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

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Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

0.33%

69.17

S&P 500

0.29%

6.93

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Financial stocks clawed back some of the losses from earlier in the week, and the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLF)beat the broader market with a 1.3% increase. Gold prices dropped by nearly 1%, which sent the highly leveraged Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT: NUGT)down almost 5%.

As for individual stocks, lululemon athletica(NASDAQ: LULU) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)stood out with unusually large moves.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Lululemon's tough 2017 outlook

Lululemon stock dove 23% following solid fiscal fourth-quarter results that were marred by an underwhelming forecast for the year ahead. Sales growth for the holiday quarter edged past management's expectations as revenue rose 12% to $790 million, compared to the range of $765 million to $785 million that the company had forecast in December. Earnings were right on target at $0.99 per share.

Image source: Lululemon.

Looking deeper into the results, gross profit margin was healthy, and in fact jumped by nearly 4 percentage points to 54% of sales. Operating income also improved, rising to 25% of sales from 24% a year ago. "These results reflect our strong brand and solid foundation now in place to drive our future performance," CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a press release.

Yet since the close of the quarter, Lululemon has noticed a sharp traffic drop. As a result, management is projecting declining comparable-store sales for the current quarter as revenue just ticks up to $510 million to $515 million. Consensus estimates were targeting closer to $552 million. Expected earnings of$0.25 to $0.27 per share also fall well below Wall Street's forecasts. The slowdown could push sales growth down to low-single digits for the full year, marking a significant slowdown from 2016's 6% increase.

ConocoPhillips raises cash

Shares of ConocoPhillips jumped almost 9% after the energy giant announced the sale of $13.3 billion worth of its assets. Its 50% stake in the Foster Creek Christina Lake oil sands partnership and its western Canada Deep Basin gas assets will be headed to Cenovus Energy for $10.6 billion of cash and Cenovus shares worth $2.7 billion.

The deal will provide the funds to allow ConocoPhillips to achieve its three-year financial plan less than a year after it originally detailed the goals to investors. Specifically, management now expects to lower its debt level to $20 billion in 2017 from $27 billion while significantly accelerating its share repurchase spending. The move also promises to lower the average cost of its oil supply.

"Our stated plan was to accelerate our value proposition by reducing debt with asset sales," CEO Ryan Lance said in a press release. "This transaction significantly accelerates those efforts and provides an important catalyst that should allow investors to have clarity and confidence in our future direction."

ConocoPhillips was carrying the assets on its books at a value of $10.9 billion, which helps explain why investors reacted positively to the oil and gas giant's plan to part with them for more than $13 billion.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Lululemon Athletica. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.