Why Snap, Greenhill, and Actua Jumped Today

Stocks were quiet on Tuesday, and major benchmarks generally finished slightly higher although they didn't make much headway from where they began the day. Positive comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggested that the central bank might be slightly more dovish with monetary policy than its recent official announcements have suggested, but investors are still a bit nervous about the direction of the economy amid a recovery that's been in place for eight years. The market also benefited from more extensive gains in some key stocks. Snap (NYSE: SNAP), Greenhill (NYSE: GHL), and Actua (NASDAQ: ACTA) 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.

Snap breaks its losing streak

Snap stock gained 5%, finally putting an end to a six-day streak of falling share prices that in total had led to a decline of 13%. Snap has said that it's seeing some success in its business initiatives, with a rise in counts of new domestic users, but investors didn't seem to like the news that the social media company had chosen to restructure its hardware business. Today's gains notwithstanding, those who follow the company realize that Snap will have to deal with the inevitability of slowing growth rates. Capturing more users will be critical, and Snap's success or failure in building up its network base will most likely determine the long-term direction of the stock going forward.

Greenhill makes a big buy

Greenhill stock soared 17% after the company announced what it called a "major share repurchase" as part of a broader recapitalization plan. The corporate advisory company said that it will borrow $300 million, using the proceeds to pay down existing debt and buy back as much as $235 million in common stock. That works out to almost half of Greenhill's market capitalization, and Greenhill's management said that it won't sell back their shares, effectively resulting in a huge boost in their collective ownership of the company going forward. The company believes that the move will cut taxes, boost earnings, and give employees a better incentive. Income investors will be disappointed, however, as Greenhill chose to reduce or eliminate its dividend following its scheduled payment later this month.

Actua plans liquidation

Finally, shares of Actua skyrocketed 25%. The cloud computing expert in specialized software-as-a-service markets said that it will sell off its three majority-owned businesses and wind down its operations. Actua will sell its VelocityEHS management software solutions platform and its Bolt Solutions insurance digital distribution platform unit to private equity company CVC Growth Fund, while financial services provider Envestnet (NYSE: ENV) will purchase Actua's FolioDynamix wealth management platform. The sale prices total $549 million, and Actua expects to net $472 million to $502 million and then distribute substantially all of the remaining money to shareholders. That will leave Actua with minimal assets that it will then work to wind down, and at the end of the day, investors should end up with roughly a quarter to a third more than where the share price was before the announcement.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Envestnet. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.