Sat10252014

Business & Real Estate

Employment trend sparks markets rise

The old adage advises “Sell in May and Go Away.” But investors who went away missed out on stocks hitting an all-time high Friday, with the S&P 500 topping 1,600 and the Dow Jones industrial average surpassing 15,000.

Investors welcomed a bullish, stronger-than-anticipated jobs report and the news that the economy isn’t slowing as expected.

While it’s foolish to credit any single piece of information for broad increases in the market, the employment data contributed to the stocks’ gains. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reported that the economy added 165,000 jobs in April, creating an average of 208,000 new jobs per month from November through April.

Two Town Crier “50” stocks made headlines last week.

• Facebook Inc. (FB; $27.70) announced its first-quarter results May 1, reporting a sizable increase in revenue. Revenue totaled $1.46 billion, a 38 percent increase compared with $1.06 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Mobile ads contributed $375 million in revenue, nearly one-third of the company’s advertising sales.

Facebook began selling mobile ads in the second half of last year and continues to expand its efforts. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is developing a slew of new advertising products that encourage smartphone and tablet users to download apps to reach people online.

Facebook priced its initial public offering at $38 per share last year, but the stock plunged shortly after introduction. Shares peaked at $32.47 in late January and have fallen below $28 recently. The stock closed at $28.97 May 2.

Zacks Investment Research, noting Facebook’s significant growth opportunity in online advertising, rates the stock a strong buy. Other analysts suggest downgrading it from a buy to a hold.

• LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD; $177.02), an online network that through its proprietary platform allows members to create, manage and share their professional identities, has established itself as the go-to site for employers and job-seekers.

After the company released its first-quarter earnings last week, the stock price promptly plummeted more than 10 percent. Although LinkedIn reported a surge in profits, the outlook for the months ahead falls below analysts’ expectations.

The stock’s decline can be attributed to a forecast predicting slower earnings growth later this year, largely because smartphone users are not expected to deliver the advertising revenue the company anticipated.

LinkedIn went public in May 2011 at a share price of $45. The stock has soared since and beat quarterly expectations, closing above $200 for the first time last week.

Despite recent volatility, analysts’ opinions are primarily positive, with many deeming the stock a buy or sector perform.

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