What Happened in the Stock Market Today

Markets Motley Fool

Stocks delivered their biggest single-day gains of the summer on Monday, as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to wane for the time being. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) enjoyed a triple-digit gain to close just shy of the symbolic 22,000 level, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) and Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) each fared even better.

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Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow 0.62% 135.39
S&P 500 1.00% 24.51
Nasdaq 1.34% 83.68

Bank stocks led the way after last week's multiday slide, and the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEMKT: KBE) gained 2%. Technology stocks performed nearly as well, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLK) jumping 1.6%.

As for individual stocks, two companies in particular left investors cheering more than most: an analyst's kind words lifted shares of Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU), while an encouraging preliminary earnings report caused VMware (NYSE: VMW) to vault higher.

Micron is positioned for success

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Shares of Micron Technology climbed 4.4% -- an especially pronounced move for the memory and semiconductor specialist given its $30-billion-plus market capitalization -- after Stifel Nicolaus analyst Kevin Cassidy reiterated his buy rating on the stock.

To explain his continued bullishness, Cassidy pointed to his recent attendance at this year's Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California, according to a note to clients obtained by Barron's (may require subscription). More specifically, Cassidy stated that data centers have begun transitioning "from CPU-centric systems to data-centric systems," which means memory products are poised to overtake central processing units as the most important piece of the data center model.

To be fair, this shouldn't be entirely surprising. During Micron's most recent quarterly conference call in late June, CEO Sanjay Mehrotra noted the company expects "healthy industry demand to persist into 2018, supported by continued strong growth in both DRAM and NAND demand, reflecting broader trends in the data center and mobile markets." Nonetheless, it certainly doesn't hurt to have this positive trend highlighted by Wall Street. 

VMWare's earnings surprise

VMware stock rose 6.6% today after the cloud computing and software virtualization specialist announced strong preliminary fiscal second-quarter 2018 results.

VMware's quarterly revenue is now expected to be between $1.89 billion and $1.91 billion, good for growth of 11.9% to 12.6% over the same year-ago period. On the bottom line, that should translate to adjusted net income per diluted share of $1.15 to $1.19. Both figures were well above analysts' consensus estimates for adjusted earnings of $1.13 per share on revenue of $1.86 billion.

What's more, thanks to a combination of its Q2 outperformance and expectations for "continued broad-based growth" in the second half, VMware also increased its full fiscal-year guidance to call for revenue of $7.83 billion, and adjusted net income per diluted share of $5.08. By comparison, VMware's most recent guidance provided last quarter called for fiscal 2018 revenue of $7.61 billion, and adjusted earnings of $4.91 per share.

As it stands, investors hoping for additional color on the quarter will need to wait until VMware's final results are released on Aug. 24, 2017. But in the meantime, it's hard to blame them for bidding up VMware stock today.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends VMware. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.