U.S. shares advanced on Friday after American companies hired more employees than anticipated in May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (INDEXDJX:.DJI) advanced 1.3 percent in midday trading. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) added 1.2 percent. Most followed shares included Monsanto, Yum! Brands, Gap, Quiksilver, TiVo and Intel.
In consumer discretionary shares, Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE:YUM), the owner of KFC, rose 2.6 percent to $72.97 after UBS AG raised its recommendation for the stock to "buy" from "neutral" and added the company to its U.S. “key call” list, saying sales and profitability in China will start to improve from the impact of recent health scares in the country.
Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), the largest U.S. specialty-apparel retailer, advanced to the highest intraday price in more than 13 years on Friday after reporting same-store sales for May that beat analyst estimates. The shares rose as much as 3.4 percent to $42.40, the highest price since April 13, 2000. Total comparable sales rose 7 percent last month, compared with a 2 percent gain for May last year, the San Francisco, California-based company said in a statement late Thursday. Analysts on average had projected 3.7 percent according to Bloomberg, and 4.1 percent according to Thomson Reuters.
Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE:THO), the maker of recreational vehicles, gained 14 percent to $46.93. The Elkhart, Indiana-based company said it earned 97 cents a share for its third quarter, excluding certain items, above the 84 cents a share estimated by analysts. The company is seeing a recovery in its sales for its Four Winds, Airstream, and Dutchman brands.
Steven Madden Ltd. (NASDAQ:SHOO) rose 1.5 percent to $48.37. Piper Jaffray started coverage of the shoe retailer with an "overweight" rating, based on increasing prospects for sales growth and heightened brand awareness among consumers.
Quiksilver Inc. (NYSE:ZQK), the apparel retailer, tumbled 14.3 percent to $6.58 after posting an unexpected loss. Net income for the quarter ended April 30 widened to $32.4 million or 19 cents a share, from a loss of $5.1 million or 3 cents a share, a year earlier. Stripping out one-time items, the company lost 12 cents a share. Anaysts were modeling a profit of 4 cents a share. Quarterly revenue fell 7 percent to $458.7 million. The company suffered from weaker European sales and charges.
Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE:MTN), which operates resorts in Colorado, fell 0.2 percent to $62.02. The company said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose to $97.6 million, or $2.66 a share, from $79.6 million, or $2.17 a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $469.7 million from $421.1 million. This missed analysts expectations of $2.74 a share in profit and $474 million in revenue.
United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE:UAL), owner of the world's largest airline, climbed 5.6 percent to $32.32. Goldman upgraded the airline's stock to "neutral" from "sell", based on rebounding traffic as consumer confidence increases.
In consumer staples shares, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), the world's largest retailer, jumped 1.4 percent to $76.68 after approving a new $15 billion share buyback program. The new buyback program was effective on Thursday and replaces the previous $15 billion authorization, which had about $712 million remaining, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a statement.
In other stocks, Cooper Cos. Inc. (NYSE:COO), the maker of contact lenses, jumped to the highest price since 1986, rising 5 percent to $118.75. The Pleasanton, California-based company reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $1.50 per share, excluding certain items, above the $1.38 a share estimated by analysts, though revenues were slightly shy of consensus. The company also raised its earnings and revenue forecast for the year, on strengthening contact lens sales.
TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO), the developer of digital-video recorders, dropped 19 percent to $11.04. The Alviso, California-based company settled a patent dispute with Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit, Cisco Systems Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. for $490 million -- less than estimated.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC), the world’s largest chipmaker, slid 0.4 percent to $24.56 after Piper Jaffray downgraded the stock to "underweight" from "neutral", citing the decline in the company's core PC business. "Underweight" is similar to a "sell" rating. The investment bank also reduced its price target to $20.00 from $21.00.