Thursday was a relatively calm day on Wall Street, as market participants took a breather from a tumultuous couple of sessions earlier in the week. Major benchmarks finished the day with only modest losses after recovering from substantially greater declines early in the day. Wrangling on Capitol Hill surrounding the efforts to avoid a government shutdown beginning Saturday morning has led to typical political uncertainty, but earnings season continues to be a mostly positive influence on the overall market. Good news also helped lift some individual names. Hertz Global Holdings (NYSE: HTZ), Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF-A) (NYSE: LGF-B), and Electro Scientific Industries (NASDAQ: ESIO) 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.
Hertz makes Wall Street happy
Most people know Hertz as the giver of upgrades to higher categories of vehicles, but today, the rental car giant got an upgrade of its own. Shares climbed 6.5% after analysts at Macquarie Research upgraded Hertz stock from neutral to outperform and increased their target price by $4 to $30 per share. After dealing with substantial pressure for years, Macquarie believes Hertz is poised to reap the rewards of considerable capital investment. Even with the good news, Hertz only made back about half of what it lost yesterday following its primary competitor's earnings warning.
Lions Gate roars -- and peers listen
Lions Gate Entertainment stock picked up 7% as investors speculated over reports of possible takeover interest for the studio producer. Amid consolidation among major media and entertainment companies, smaller players like Lions Gate have gained attention as being the next logical companies up for bid if the trend continues. Moreover, possible buyers include not only other traditional media companies but also wireless telecom and streaming media specialists, both of which could benefit from having a steady source of in-house content available for their distribution channels. Investors will need to keep an eye on Lions Gate to see if these rumors turn into hard news.
Electro Scientific gives a good report
Finally, shares of Electro Scientific Industries shot higher by nearly 20%. The laser manufacturer gave upbeat preliminary figures for its fiscal third quarter, including revenue that was 25% to 30% higher than most of those following the stock had expected to see. Booking activity for the quarter was strong, and the company said that demand for its laser drilling products rose due to favorable conditions for Electro Scientific's customer base. This industry tends to be cyclical in nature, but even after the stock more than tripled in 2017, Electro Scientific's jump today suggests that there could be more in store for the laser specialist's shareholders in 2018 as well.
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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Lions Gate Entertainment Class A and Lions Gate Entertainment Class B. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.