Top Stocks of the Week: Paramount Rises 11.4%

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Last week was a short week for the stock markets due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but that did not stop them from having another positive week. The S&P 500 had its third straight week of gains, rising 2.2% last week, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 1.9%.

The S&P closed on Friday at 4,559, up 18.7% year to date (YTD). Since Nov. 1, the benchmark has climbed 8.7%. Here are the top three stocks that helped drive the S&P 500 higher last week.

1. Paramount Global

Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA), the media company that owns film, television, and streaming properties, among others, surged 8.7% last week to about $14 per share. It is down roughly 14% YTD.

Last week’s gains likely stemmed from a couple of different sources. One was a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that dropped at the end of the previous week, fueling speculation about a potential merger or acquisition.

The filing 8-K filing was related to the potential departure of a slew of top executives, including CEO Robert Bakish. Specifically, it said that the company had adopted a Change in Control Severance Protection Plan to provide severance benefits to certain Paramount senior executives “in the event of any such executive’s Qualifying Termination in connection with or within two years following the consummation of a change in control.”

There had already been speculation that Paramount was a potential acquisition target, and this only added fuel to the fire.

Another move that added to that narrative last week was the reported sale of the company’s roughly $500 million Bellator mixed martial arts (MMA) group to the Saudi-backed Professional Fighters League. Paramount will reportedly maintain a minority stake. This follows the announcement in October that it was shutting down Showtime Sports and rolling everything into CBS Sports.

2. Agilent Technologies

While third-quarter earnings are winding down, there are still a few companies reporting. One of them was Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A), which posted its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Nov. 20. Agilent, a medical device and equipment manufacturer, surged 10.9% last week on earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

While the company’s revenue was down 8.7% in the quarter to $1.69 billion, its net income jumped 32% year over year to $475 million, or $1.62 per share. For the full fiscal year, revenue was flat at $6.8 billion, as was net income at $1.2 billion, or $4.19 per share, with non-GAAP earnings per share (EPS) at $5.44.

CEO Mike McMullen was pleased with the results, given that this has been a challenging year for the industry. In fiscal 2024, he expects a “slow but steady recovery.”

For fiscal 2024, Agilent anticipates revenue in the range of $6.71 billion to $6.81 billion, which would be down slightly to flat versus FY 2023. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be in the range of $5.44 to $5.55 per share, which would be flat to a slight increase over the previous year. First-quarter revenue is projected to be down by 11.4% to 8.6% year over year to between $1.555 billion and $1.605 billion.

3. Enphase Energy

Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) has been on a roll as of late. The solar energy company saw its stock price rise 10.5% last week following a 19.1% increase the week before. This company, which makes micro-inverters for solar panels and battery storage units, continued to ride the momentum from the previous week.

Enphase received a lift the previous week from an announcement that the U.S. Department of Energy was granting $3.5 billion to increase production of advanced batteries and battery materials. The company also saw a boost from falling inflation numbers, which could signal the end of rate hikes, potentially making it cheaper for Enphase to finance projects.

Another potential catalyst for Enphase last week was an SEC filing that showed that President and CEO Badri Kothandaraman bought 1,118 shares of the stock on Nov. 16. This purchase by a company executive could signal to the market a degree of confidence in the direction of the stock.

While Enphase has strung together two great weeks, it is still down by about 62% this year, trading at around $97 per share.

Looking ahead

While third-quarter earnings are wrapping up, some retailers are set report this week. As we come off Black Friday and Cyber Monday into the holiday shopping season, these could be stocks to watch.

Among those reporting this week are Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR), Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE), Foot Locker (NYSE:FL), Petco (NASDAQ:WOOF), Big Lots (NYSE:BIG), and Victoria’s Secret (NYSE:VSCO), among others.

One other thing to watch for this week is the release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index on Thursday, which will reveal any changes in the prices of goods and services purchased by consumers.