Why Verizon Communications, Automatic Data Processing, and Sirius XM Holdings Jumped Today

Thursday was a bad day for stocks overall, with the Nasdaq Composite falling by more than half a percent and the broader S&P 500 posting more modest losses on the session. Most market participants blamed the downturn on a reversal of fortune for technology stocks, which have led stocks higher throughout much of 2017. With major benchmarks having pushed well into record territory for an exceedingly long time without a correction, some investors believe that a bigger pullback is inevitable.

Yet earnings season brought good news to some companies, and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP), and Sirius XM Holdings (NASDAQ: SIRI) 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.

Verizon can hear you now

Shares of Verizon Communications climbed 8% after the telecom giant announced its second-quarter financial results. Verizon said that its revenue was roughly flat from year-ago levels, and earnings rose just 2%. Yet the big news from the wireless telecom leader was that new subscriber counts in the postpaid smartphone arena jumped by 590,000, and churn rates remained below the key 1% level, indicating greater loyalty among Verizon customers. The company attributed part of its success to its decision to move forward with new unlimited wireless data plans, but Verizon only did so because competitive pressures from rivals had made it practically impossible not to follow suit. Now, attention will turn to whether Verizon can take the lead in rolling out a 5G network to improve on quality and reliability.

ADP climbs on activist speculation

Automatic Data Processing stock picked up 9% in the wake of the company's fiscal fourth-quarter financial report. ADP said that revenue was up 6% from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, but earnings were down slightly over the period. Strength in the employment administration outsourcing arena was particularly noteworthy, and ADP said that it expects revenue growth of 5% to 6% for fiscal 2018 and adjusted earnings to climb by 2% to 4%. Yet what really got the stock moving was a report that activist investor Bill Ackman had bought a stake in the business outsourcing company. No details were yet available, but shareholders looked forward to the notion that Ackman might take action to push ADP's share price higher in the near future. With rising competition from up-and-coming providers, ADP will need to work hard to sustain its leadership role in the industry.

Sirius XM boosts guidance on subscriber growth

Finally, shares of Sirius XM Holdings climbed 8%. The provider of satellite radio services reported record second-quarter revenue that was up 9% from the year-ago quarter, along with a 16% boost to net income. "Demand for our premium content bundle pushed our listener base to an all-time high of more than 32 million paying subscribers," said CEO Jim Meyer, and "we also made tremendous progress on strategic initiatives in the second quarter." In particular, the recapitalization of Sirius XM's Canada unit, the acquisition of Automatic Labs, and the purchase of a minority stake in Pandora Media all pointed to potential future growth for Sirius XM. With investors having been slightly skeptical about Sirius XM's prospects coming into the report, the gain in the share price reflects greater enthusiasm for the company's prospects going forward.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Pandora Media and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Automatic Data Processing. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.