Wednesday was a relatively quiet day on Wall Street, with major market benchmarks closing the day mixed, but nearly flat. Market participants were briefly enthusiastic about the potential to set new record highs following reports that the U.S. and China were mulling further trade negotiations, but the positive impact of that announcement largely waned as the day progressed. Nevertheless, investors focusing on company-specific news found some reasons to celebrate. Altria Group (NYSE: MO), Galapagos (NASDAQ: GLPG), and Laredo Petroleum (NYSE: LPI) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these businesses to tell you why their stocks did so well.
Altria hopes competitors will take a tumble
Altria Group rose 6% after reports surfaced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on products manufactured by some of the tobacco giant's newest competitors. The head of the FDA made comments about the popularity of flavored e-cigarettes, using the word "epidemic" to describe underage teen use of the devices, and calling on companies to take steps to curb their use or else face a potential ban. While Altria's MarkTen was among the brands that the FDA specifically called out, the impact of an FDA ban would be much stronger on e-cigarette specialist Juul, which has emerged as a significant competitor for Altria. Investors hope that if Juul is contained as a competitive threat, Altria will be able to move forward with its own strategy more effectively.
Galapagos celebrates a joint victory
Galapagos climbed 17% after the biotech company and its key partner announced good news on the clinical trials front. Galapagos and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) have worked together in clinical studies of its JAK1 inhibitor filgotinib as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and the two companies said late Tuesday that a phase 3 trial had met its primary and key secondary endpoints, including having enough patients meet specified response rates as defined by the American College of Rheumatology. Favorable news on the safety front also gives the companies a chance to distinguish filgotinib from rival treatments. Other potential indications for the treatment include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, so investors are excited about Galapagos' upside.
Laredo joins the index club
Finally, shares of Laredo Petroleum picked up 10%. The oil and gas exploration and production company got good news from the index managers at S&P Dow Jones Indices, which said that Laredo would join the S&P SmallCap 600 as of Sept. 17. The move came as S&P dealt with a domino effect resulting from the merger of a member of the S&P 500, elevating a company in its key mid-cap stock benchmark to fill that vacancy and then taking an existing constituent in its small-cap index to replace the rising mid-cap stock. Laredo has had its challenges this year, but shareholders hope that improvements to pipeline infrastructure serving the Permian Basin will help the energy company realize more profits and perform better than it has recently.
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