The stock market regained some lost ground on Friday, posting modest gains as investors tried to look at the bright side of contentious issues like trade with China and the possibility of economic slowdowns across the globe. Market participants still seem far from secure in their confidence about the prospects for favorable conditions persisting in the U.S., but good news from several companies supported a more optimistic view on the markets broadly. Aphria (NYSE: APHA), Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ: HIBB), and Total System Services (NYSE: TSS) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.
Aphria gets a good review
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Shares of Aphria rose almost 15% after the Canadian cannabis company received positive comments from stock analysts at Jefferies. The analysts initiated their coverage of Aphria with a buy rating, setting a price target of 15 Canadian dollars per share. It's true that Aphria has faced some controversy in the past surrounding an acquisition that some found questionable, but Jefferies believes that the share price reflects a larger discount for those issues than is warranted, given Aphria's strategic position in the marijuana market. Even after today's gains, Aphria still has upside potential of roughly 50% if Jefferies' price target for the stock proves correct.
Hibbett wins the game
Hibbett Sports saw its stock climb almost 21% following the sporting goods retailer's release of first-quarter financial results. Hibbett reported a 25% jump in revenue for the period compared to the year-ago quarter, with comparable-store sales gains of 5.1% complementing the recent addition of City Gear stores to the company. Strong showings in footwear as well as apparel and accessories provided much of the boost for Hibbett, offsetting weaker performance in licensed products and team sports. Hibbett is still looking at closing about 95 stores this year to optimize its business efficiency, but the latest results prompted the retailer to boost its guidance on comps and earnings, and that was exactly what shareholders wanted to see.
Will Total System be bought out?
Finally, shares of Total System Services finished higher by about 14%. Reports surfaced that financial technology pioneer Global Payments (NYSE: GPN) might be looking to make an acquisition bid for Total System early next week, with speculation that the size of the offer could be in the $20 billion range. Total System is reportedly exploring a wide range of options that could involve something short of a full merger, such as joint ventures or other partnership arrangements. With substantial consolidation having already taken place in the financial technology and payment processing space, it's not surprising to see Global Payments looking to stake its claim to keep playing a leadership role -- and Total System shareholders seem excited about the prospects.
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