Tuesday was a strong day for stocks, and major benchmarks climbed toward record highs by the end of the session. In particular, two favorable earnings reports from major components of the Dow Jones Industrials lifted the venerable average, and broader measures also followed suit on generally upbeat views of the immediate future for the financial markets. A rebound in the oil also improved the mood of the hard-hit energy sector as investors responded to news that Saudi Arabia would seek to cut exports. Several key companies reported good news today, and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU), and Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) 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.
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Caterpillar drives higher
Shares of Caterpillar bulldozed their way upward by 6% in the wake of a strong second-quarter financial report. The maker of heavy industrial and construction equipment said that sales jumped almost 10% to $11.33 billion, and profit climbed by nearly half compared to the year-ago period. Demand for machinery was on the rise, and even though some of the industries that Caterpillar serves are still under pressure, the company said that the construction sector in China and in North American gas compression operations were notable outperformers. Mining and energy companies generally have bounced off their respective lows, and Caterpillar sees favorable trends continuing. The equipment maker raised its outlook for the full 2017 year, including a $3 billion to $4 billion sales boost to a new range of $42 billion to $44 billion. Adjusted profit of $5 per share would be well above the previous guidance's call for $3.75 per share. Given how long Caterpillar shareholders have suffered, investors must be breathing a sigh of relief that times are finally getting better.
SUPERVALU serves up better results
SUPERVALU stock climbed 15% after the company reported fiscal first-quarter results. The grocery chain's adjusted earnings of $0.09 per share came as a slight disappointment to investors who had hoped for more than a 9% rise in adjusted net income from the year-earlier period, but a 6% gain in revenue was stronger than most had expected. Cost-cutting measures led to a slight decline in overhead expenses as a percentage of total sales, and CEO Mark Gross was pleased to see SUPERVALU's wholesale distribution business post double-digit percentage gains from new customers and expanded relationships with existing customers. Weakness in the retail segment was slightly troubling, but investors seem excited about SUPERVALU's recent acquisition of Unified Grocers and the ability for the combined company to take greater control of the wholesale grocery distribution business going forward.
Freeport looks golden
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Finally, shares of Freeport-McMoRan picked up 15%. At first glance, the natural resources company would have seemed like a candidate for a decline, given that Freeport released second-quarter financial results that fell short of investor expectations on the bottom line. Market commentators noted that Freeport benefited today from strong commodity markets, including a solid $1.50-per-barrel gain to bring oil prices close to the $48 mark and a two-year high for copper prices to approach the $2.75-per-pound level. Investors were also pleased that Freeport's negotiations with the Indonesian government over its Grasberg mine appear to be going well, and they're hopeful that the rebound in commodities will continue to carry the stock higher in the future.
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