Big Lots, Costco, Caterpillar News Today

​Big Lots, Inc. (BIG)​, ​Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST), and Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) are making headlines today

Mar 3, 2017 at 9:27 AM
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Ahead of a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Dow futures are modestly higher. Among specific equities in focus today are retail stocks Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST), as well as Dow component Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT). Here's a quick look at the news driving BIG, COST, and CAT shares.

Big Lots Ready For Post-Earnings Breakout

BIG is headed for a 5.5% bounce higher at the open, after the discount retailer's upbeat earnings report and guidance. The results were all the more impressive, considering the "very difficult retail environment," according to Big Lots, Inc. CEO David Campisi. Last night, the stock closed at $52.25, having advanced almost 22% year-over-year. While the brokerage crowd has yet to weigh in, upgrades are a possibility. Eight of 11 analysts tracking BIG have handed the shares a tepid "hold" rating.

Costco Membership Fee to Rise

On the other hand, COST is down 4.3% pre-market, following an earnings miss and disappointing same-store sales -- as well as news of an impending hike in the retailer's membership fee. Yet, analyst attention has been mostly positive, with four brokerage firms raising their price targets, and only Deutsche Bank lowering its expectations -- to $184 from $190, but still in record-high territory. While shares of Costco Wholesale Corporation could cool off today, they've been red-hot lately, hitting an all-time peak of $178.71 on Wednesday, and closing last night just below that mark, at $177.98. No wonder 14 of 19 analysts recommend buying COST, and not a single one suggests selling.

Caterpillar CEO Responds to Raid

CAT responded to yesterday's federal raid of its Illinois facilities, with CEO Jim Umpleby saying he was "surprised" (subscription required) by the actions. "Because of the broad nature of today's warrant, we don't have enough information at this time to provide a full understanding of the authorities' intent," he added. News of the raid dropped Caterpillar Inc. to $94.36, but the shares remain up 29.5% year-over-year. This could be a disappointment to options traders, who have been decidedly bearish of late. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have bought to open 2.92 puts for every call during the past 10 days -- a ratio just 11 percentage points from an annual high.

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