Why Yum China Holdings, Brooks Automation, and Geron Jumped Today

The stock market held its own on Tuesday, with major benchmarks generally pushing very slightly higher after their record run over the past few days. Investors were pleased to see positive readings on consumer sentiment in the U.S., as the health of the economic expansion relies largely on the willingness of shoppers to keep spending. In addition, some companies saw their shares rise due to factors specific to their businesses. Yum China Holdings (NYSE: YUMC), Brooks Automation (NASDAQ: BRKS), and Geron (NASDAQ: GERN) were among the best stocks in the market. Here's why they performed so well.

Is Yum China a takeover target?

Shares of Yum China Holdings picked up 4% after reports surfaced that the fast-food giant was approached by a group of institutional investors who wanted to take the company private. According to The Wall Street Journal, Yum China rejected offers from Hillhouse Capital Group and other members of a potential buyout consortium to pay $46 per share for the company, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants in China. Today's gains show measured optimism about the possibility of continuing negotiations, but many do believe that Yum China would be an attractive purchase for those seeking to get exposure to the fast-growing Chinese consumer market.

Brooks gets an offer it can't refuse

Brooks Automation stock soared 31% after the Massachusetts-based company received an offer to purchase a key business unit. Brooks said that it would sell its semiconductor cryogenics business to an affiliate of the Atlas Copco Group for $675 million in cash. Under the terms of the deal, Atlas will take over key product lines related to high-performance cryogenics for industries including semiconductors, displays, and general vacuum products. Brooks said it expects to use the money to focus more on accelerating the growth of its life sciences business, making the deal a win for both parties.

Geron could get more help from its ally

Finally, shares of Geron rose 14%. The cancer-drug specialist gained on news that collaborative partner Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is seeking to make a key hiring decision that could benefit both companies. Currently, Geron and J&J are working together on the candidate drug imetelstat, and the new position of strategic pricing manager could help improve the prospects for imetelstat's use and adoption in the future. With Geron already having seen big gains lately, the latest news is only icing on the cake for optimistic shareholders.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and has the following options: short October 2018 $135 calls on Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.