Friday capped off a pretty fine day for investors who enjoy markets hitting new records -- even if we've seen that happen enough times this year to shrug off the news. All three major indexes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ, hit all-time intraday highs on Friday and closed at records despite an unremarkable October jobs report. With earnings season at full speed, there were plenty of companies making big moves or big headlines. Here are three worth watching.
Trucks continue to power sales
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Many investors are keeping an eye on the U.S. automotive industry as a strong sales cycle inevitably plateaus. U.S. light-vehicle sales declined a modest 1.1% in October, but with one fewer selling day in the month, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) checked in at a very strong 18.11 million, making it the second-strongest month of 2017. Most analysts, including Edmunds and LMC Automotive, had predicted a decline between 2% and 4%.
The better-than-expected result was driven by America's healthy appetite for trucks. Light truck demand was up 3.4% last month, in contrast to the sales of passenger cars, which were down 8.8% in October. As you would expect, Detroit automakers Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM) benefited from strong truck demand. Ford's October sales embarrassed the industry's decline, posting a 6.2% gain on the strength of the F-Series' best October since 2004. The F-Series recorded nearly 76,000 units sold, a wild 15.9% gain over the prior year. Better yet for investors, the F-Series' average transaction price jumped $4,000 year over year.
General Motors couldn't match Ford's year-over-year gains, with a 2.2% decline last month, but it also recorded strong truck results: Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups increased 11.2%. GM's total crossover sales also jumped 8.5% thanks to a slew of refreshed or all-new models over the past 18 months. GM also picked up some bragging rights -- although the vehicles in question aren't apples-to-apples comparisons -- when its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV sold 2,781 units, outpacing the U.S. sales of Tesla's three models combined.
Investing is difficult, so when you get a call correct, it's worth enjoying. I first discovered Control4 (NASDAQ: CTRL) in late December 2016, and was certain it had a bright long-term future. The stock price has since moved roughly 209% higher. Better yet, the smart-home products company just posted a strong third quarter.
Revenue checked in at $64.7 million and generated adjusted earnings of $0.35 per share. The latter result was a strong 35% gain over the prior year and much higher than the adjusted earnings per share of $0.26 analysts had estimated. The results were strong enough to push the stock to an intraday all-time high of $34.10 before it settled down a bit to a healthy 14% gain Friday at $31.53.
It's true that after this year's gain Control4 shares trade at a lofty valuation -- a trailing-12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 76 times, according to Yahoo! Finance -- but analysts still see a company they like. Richard Valera, an analyst at Needham, reiterated his buy rating and raised his price target $3 to $30. Cowen analyst Robert Stone also raised his price target $2 to $32, and reiterated his outperform rating on the stock.
With earnings season running at full speed, it's tough to keep up on smaller developments such as auto industry sales or a stellar third quarter from Control4. But plateauing auto sales and a potential lucrative market if smart-home products take off over the next two decades are certainly stories to keep track of.
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