U.S. shares advanced on Thursday amid upbeat economic data and acquisitions in the media and grocery sectors. The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.3 percent. Most followed shares included Gannett, Blackberry, Safeway, PVH, DuPont, SeaWorld, Coty and Clearwire.
In technology stocks, Blackberry (NASDAQ:BBRY), the Canada-based smartphone maker, rallied 6.5 percent to $14.44 after research analysts at Societe Generale upgraded the shares from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating, citing better-than-expected sales of the company’s latest device, Blackberry 10.
American depositary receipts of Spreadtrum Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:SPRD), a Chinese chipmaker, jumped 10 percent to $20.79 after raising its second-quarter revenue guidance, citing strong demand for low-cost smartphones.
In communications shares, Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE:GCI), the publisher of USA Today, surged 29 percent to $25.69, the highest intraday price in five years. The McLean, Virginia-based company agreed to pay $1.5 billion in cash to buy Belo Corp. (NYSE:BLC) and assume $715 million in debt. The takeover will make Gannet the fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates, doubling its broadcast portfolio to 43 stations from 23. Belo soared 27 percent to $13.69, the highest intraday price in more than four years.
Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ:CLWR), a wireless service provider, advanced for a third day, adding 1 percent to $4.41 after its board urged shareholders to accept a tender offer from Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) over an earlier deal with majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp to buy out the minority shareholders of the Bellevue, Washington-based company.
In consumer staples shares, Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY), the second-largest U.S. grocery-store chain, climbed 19 percent to $27.45 after it agreed to sell its Canadian stores to Empire Co.’s Sobeys Inc. unit for about C$5.8 billion in cash.
Coty Inc. (NYSE:COTY), maker of perfumes endorsed by Beyonce and Heidi Klum, dropped 2.5 percent to $17.06 on its debut trading in New York after raising about $1 billion on behalf of existing holders in an initial public offering on Wednesday.
In apparel shares, Men's Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE:MW), the Houston, Texas-based retailer of men’s suits and sportswear, advanced 3.3 percent to $36.74. The company earned 65 cents a share for the first quarter, ten cents above estimates, with revenues also topping analyst estimates.
PVH Corp. (NYSE:PVH), a clothing maker, rose 11 percent to $123.20 after reporting better-than-expected adjusted earnings for the first quarter. The New York-based company earned $1.91 per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates of $1.35. It also adjusted its current quarter forecast to $1.35 per share, in line with Wall Street estimates.
Quiksilver Inc. (NYSE:ZQK), the skate and surf retailer, shed 1.4 percent to $6.25 after Moody’s Investors Service lowered its rating on the shares one notch further into junk territory, citing the sports outfitter’s continued weak performance.
In other consumer discretionary shares, H&R Block Inc. (NYSE:HRB), the biggest U.S. tax preparer, slid 1.2 percent to $28.30 after its fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell short of analysts' expectations. The Kansas City, Missouri-based company said its adjusted earnings per share for the three months ended April 30 rose to $2.54 a share from $2.05 a share a year earlier. This trailed the $2.65 a share forecast by analysts.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE:SEAS), the amusement park operator, edged up 0.5 percent to $36.80 as its board initiated a quarterly dividend of 20 cents a share, payable on July 1 to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 20. The Orlando, Florida-based company went public in April.
Five Below Inc. (NASDAQ:FIVE), a discount retailer, increased 4.8 percent to $37.10. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company reported better-than-anticipated profit and revenue in the first quarter. It earned 5 cents per share, one cent above estimates. The company also provided guidance for the current quarter results above analysts' estimates, helped by improving same store sales.
In materials shares, DuPont Co. (NYSE:DD), the largest U.S. chemical company by market value, slid 0.7 percent to $53.86 as it lowered its first-half earnings forecast after cool, wet weather in North America and Europe affected revenue and costs at its agriculture and nutrition and health units.
International Paper Co. (NYSE:IP), the world’s largest manufacturer of cardboard shipping containers, ended three days of losses, gaining 1.4 percent to $44.62. The stock was boosted to "buy" from "neutral" and added to the "conviction buy" list at Goldman Sachs.
In other stocks, Waste Management Inc. (NYSE:WM), an environmental services company, gave back 1.1 percent to $39.72 after Goldman Sachs downgraded the shares to "neutral" from "attractive" on a valuation basis.