Thursday was a mixed day for the stock market, with the major indexes moving in different directions. The big news of the day came from Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers released their tax reform bill. Many of the proposals in the bill were as expected, including one that would cut the corporate tax rate to 20%, and others that would increases the standard deduction and child tax credit. But the bill also carried some changes from previous iterations, including a fourth tax bracket for high-income taxpayers and a partial restoration of federal deductions for state and local property taxes, which had been slated for the chopping block.
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In addition, the White House nominated Federal Reserve Board of Governor's member Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as chair of the Fed. All of these moves created both opportunity and uncertainty, which helps put the mixed showing in the market in perspective. Yet for some stocks, it was more company-specific good news that moved the needle Thursday; L Brands (NYSE: LB), SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR), and Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) 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.
L Brands has a great month
Shares of L Brands rose by 9% after the parent of retail chains Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works reported its October sales results and boosted its third-quarter earnings guidance. The company said revenue for the month was up 5% year over year, with comparable sales climbing 2%. Those gains came despite its prior decision to exit the swim and apparel categories. L Brands also said that its earnings per share for the quarter that just ended would come in at the high end of its previous projected range of $0.25 to $0.30. Given the challenges that L Brands has had lately, Thursday's report was a breath of fresh air for investors who've gotten burned by stocks across the retail sector.
SunPower comes out of the shade
SunPower soared 15% in the wake of its third-quarter release. The solar energy specialist unexpectedly posted an adjusted profit for the quarter, with sales of $477 million that topped what most analysts were looking to see by more than $100 million. Management said that the company had hit its cost reduction targets, and pronounced themselves happy with the payoff from recent investments. With the solar giant expected to complete its restructuring program in the first half of 2018, SunPower is positioning itself to benefit from any uptick in solar demand in the years to come.
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Yum! looks tasty
Finally, Yum! Brands picked up 7%. The company behind the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC restaurant chains reported a 5% drop in revenue, but that decline was less extreme than the experts had feared. Bottom-line results were much more favorable, with earnings climbing more than 20%. In particular, some had worried that the controversies around the NFL might have cut into Pizza Hut's sales -- something another pizza company recently blamed for its poorer results. Yum! continues to move forward with initiatives designed to drive online sales, and is engaging in ongoing cost-cutting measures. Investors appear optimistic that those efforts will keep producing positive results.
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