Major stock market indexes rose on Wednesday in the wake of new government data that showed durable goods orders climbed a better-than-expected 0.4% in January. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) both posted modest gains.
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Tech stocks also surged, leaving the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEMKT: XLK) up 0.7%. Industrial names rebounded after a particularly difficult session on Tuesday, with the Industrial Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEMKT: XLI) jumping 0.9%.
As for individual stocks, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) popped after bringing on a promising new strategic advisor, while Vera Bradley (NASDAQ: VRA) soared on a strong quarterly report.
Aurora Cannabis hires Nelson Peltz
Aurora Cannabis shares climbed 13.9% after the marijuana producer appointed Nelson Peltz -- a noted billionaire activist investor, and the founding partner and CEO of investment firm Trian Fund Management -- as a strategic advisor.
Aurora says it will work with Peltz on both its global expansion strategy and "to explore potential partnerships that would be the optimal strategic fit for successful entry into each of Aurora's contemplated market segments."
"I believe Aurora has a solid execution track record, is strongly differentiated from its peers, has achieved integration throughout the value chain and is poised to go to the next level across a range of industry verticals," Peltz added. "I also believe that Canadian licensed producers, and Aurora in particular, are well positioned to lead in the development of the international cannabis industry as regulations evolve, with a strong, globally replicable operating model."
Aurora also granted Peltz options to buy nearly 20 million common Aurora shares at a price of 10.34 Canadian dollars per share.
Vera Bradley's stylish quarter
Vera Bradley stock skyrocketed 21.8% after the luxury handbag and accessories leader announced better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter 2019 results and solid guidance.
Vera Bradley's quarterly revenue declined 10.5% year over year, to $118.2 million, near the high end of guidance for a range of $114 million to $119 million. Net income climbed slightly to $8.6 million, or $0.25 per share, also at the top end of guidance for per-share earnings of $0.22 to $0.25.
CEO Robert Wallstrom said he was "pleased" with the company's performance, particularly given the combination of strong revenue, higher-than-expected gross margin, and solid expense management.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2020, Vera Bradley expects revenue in the range of $420 million to $440 million, good for year-over-year growth of 0.9% to 5.7%. That should translate into earnings per share of $0.64 to $0.74, up from $0.59 per share in fiscal 2019. Both the top and bottom lines of this outlook were above analysts' consensus estimates calling for fiscal 2020 revenue of $405.4 million and earnings of $0.60 per share.
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