Investors are drawn to exciting days on Wall Street, but the stock market often goes through long periods of relatively little movement. This week has had several days of minimal volatility, and Thursday continued that trend. Major benchmarks all finished very close to the levels at which they started the day, as market participants looked at a host of factors, including the prospects for Obamacare repeal in Congress and falling energy prices. Yet some stocks still scored solid gains on the day, and Square (NYSE: SQ), FormFactor (NASDAQ: FORM), and Air Transport Services Group (NASDAQ: ATSG) 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.
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Square looks hip after solid earnings
Shares of Square finished up 9% after the company reported first-quarter financial results. The point-of-sale payment pioneer posted a 22% rise in revenue, with gross payment volumes climbing by a third compared to year-ago levels. Square still lost money, but its losses narrowed more than most investors had expected to see. The company said that it is going beyond its original target audience of small business to bring in more large enterprise customers, and a variety of new and expanded services could allow Square to become much more than just a payments specialist. As other companies that have traditionally focused on certain niche areas look to broaden their scope, Square is getting ahead of the game and looking to get a jump on its competition.
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FormFactor passes the test
FormFactor stock jumped 22% in the wake of strong financial performance in the company's first-quarter report. The test-technology and engineering probe specialist said that revenue climbed by an impressive 140% from year-ago levels, hitting a new record for quarterly revenue for the season, as customers had high demand for all of FormFactor's product lines. The company reversed a year-ago loss with a solid profit, and FormFactor has gotten more optimistic about its outlook for the remainder of the year, with expectations for consistent performance in the second half of 2017. Given the relative health of the semiconductor industry, which is a key customer base for FormFactor's probe-card products, investors rightfully have more confidence in FormFactor's ability to take full advantage of the good conditions that prevail right now.
Air Transport rides aerospace strength higher
Finally, shares of Air Transport Services Group finished the day with a 17% gain. The provider of aircraft leasing, air cargo transport, and related services said that sales jumped by a third, and when you take out certain extraordinary items, adjusted earnings from continuing operations rose by a similar amount. CEO Joe Hete said that the number of aircraft from its Boeing 767 fleet that were leased to external customers jumped by nearly half from year-ago figures, and Air Transport believes that stronger leasing activity more broadly reflects beneficial trends that prevail in the industry right now. In particular, new business in external maintenance services, parcel handling, and logistical support helped bolster Air Transport's numbers, and investors have high hopes that even better times could come soon.
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