Hot Stocks: Herbalife, New York Times, Akamai, O’Reilly, ViaSat

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The market contracted by a shade this afternoon as investors pulled back from the gains made in the last few weeks. Both the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ lost more than 0.5% of their value this mornings; however there were some exceptions of course. ViaSat, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT), Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF), O’Reilly Automotive Inc (NASDAQ:ORLY) and The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) have all made strong gains. Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM), on the other hand, lost more than 15% of its value today.

Hot Stocks: Herbalife, New York Times, Akamai, O'Reilly, ViaSat

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF): Trading of the Multi-Level Marketing scheme was a big attraction today after Bill Ackman released a document questioning the company’s business from almost every angle. The company’s stock, rather than fall as might have been expected, rose by more than 2% this morning. Investors no longer seem to be listening to the hedge fund manager’s pleas about the company’s weaknesses.

The document reiterated many of the points he’s already publicized about Herbalife and questioned many of the aspects of the company, which appears to be a pyramid scheme, and that it launders money. The investor also pushed the comparisons that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) to the girl scouts in the past.

Some of the choice questions asked by Bill Ackman included “Why does Herbalife have ATM Machines in Mexico?” and “When Girl Scouts sell cookies, do 11 levels of ‘upline’ Girl Scouts receive sales commissions?” It’s unlikely that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) will take Bill Ackman up on his challenge, but the firm is still an interesting stock to watch today.

The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT): Earnings released this morning by the newspaper group impressed the market and The New York Times Company stock rose by more than 4% in trading this morning. The company announced earnings per share of $1.14 on revenues totaling %575.8 million.

In the same period in 2011, the company earned 45 cents per share on revenues of $643 million. The fourth quarter results cap a year in which the newspaper group earned 87 cents per share on twelve months of revenues totalling $1.99 billion. In 2011 The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) earned 67 cents per share on revenues of $2.3 billion.

Most of the boost in the firm’s fourth quarter earnings came from the one-off inclusion off asset sales in the firm’s bottom line. The NYT sold stakes in the About Group, for $96 million, and, for $164 million, during the period. In the last twelve months the firm’s stock has risen by more than 14%, and since the start of 2013, the company’s stock is up a fraction.

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM): A negative earnings report that better reflected the mood of the market came from Akamai Technologies today. The firm reported fourth quarter 2012 earnings of 54 cents per share on $377.87 million in revenue. Analysts had expected earnings of 49 cents per share on revenues of $381 million.

Despite the beat on earnings, investors sent shares in Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) down by more than 15% in this morning’s trading. The firm, which specializes in the development of content delivery services for cloud based services, has a high P/E ratio of over 30, and its guidance predicted little growth going forward.

In the Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) guidance for the first quarter of 2013, the company said that its outlook for the first three months of 2013 was neutral. Investors, nervous about what that means going forward, have begun to abandon the high valued stock.

O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ:ORLY): Earnings from O’Reilly Automotive Inc. drove the stock price up more than 8% during the morning’s trading activity. The company posted earnings of $1.14 per share on revenues of $1.49 billion. In the same quarter one year ago, the company posted quarterly earnings of 93 cents per share on revenue of $1.4 billion.

The Street consensus was for earnings of $1.08 per share from the company on revenues of $1.5 billion. Shares in O’Reilly Automotive Inc (NASDAQ:ORLY) have risen by more than 14% in the last twelve months, and since the start of 2013, the company’s shares have gained almost 12%. The current stock price is the highest it’s been since last April, after a positive first quarter earnings report in 2012.

The company also managed to give positive guidance for the year ahead. While analysts estimates for 2013 call for $5.52 per share, the company offered guidance of $5.57 per share for the year ahead. Investors are trying to get in on the company’s success, hoping that it continues through 2013.

ViaSat, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT): One of the biggest movers on today’s market, ViaSat, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT) shares rose by more than 19% on today’s pessimistic market, and edged toward 20%. The impetus behind the huge jump was a loss per share of 47 cents. Analysts had expected the company to lose just 18 cents per share.

ViaSat has an excellent reason for the outsized losses, it paid off a huge chunk of debt in the last quarter of 2012 that had been weighing on the company. The adjusted results were also better than analysts had expected, leaving the company in a much better position going into 2013 than had been expected.

In the last twelve months, ViaSat, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT) shares have increased by just over 3% in the last twelve months. The company’s stock lost a large amount of value in the middle of last year. Since the start of 2013, however, the company’s stock has risen by more than 22%. In a bad day on the market, ViaSat is providing some inspiration to traders.

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