Ultimate Market Recap: Scholastic Makes the Grade, Appetite for Apple Increases

Wall Street Brief: China’s Hard Landing, Apple’s New All-Time Stock High

According to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst, China’s economy has already entered a “hard landing.” The Hong Kong-based analyst, Adrian Mowat, said, ““If you look at the Chinese data, you should stop debating about a hard landing. China is in a hard landing. Car sales are down, cement production is down, steel production is down, construction stocks are down. It’s not a debate anymore, it’s a fact.” The market responded to the comments with the Shanghai Composite Index dropping 2.6 percent on Wednesday, its greatest decline since Nov. 30, reported Bloomberg.

On Thursday, the Hague District Court rejected Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) attempt to ban Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and iPads in the Netherlands. This come as a victory for Apple’s against Samsung as the court had ruled that Samsung will be unable to collect a license on its 3G patents for Apple’s iPhone 4S and possibly other Apple devices using Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) chips. With the ruling, Apple may be motivated to continue utilizing Qualcomm chips in the future for iPhones and iPads.

More good news for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The stock reached a new high on Wednesday, rising 3.8 percent to $589.58. The company now has a value of close to $550 billion, double of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) worth. Adding to the Apple’s rise was a bullish research note by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Canaccord’s Mike Walkley. He wrote that shipping wait times for the new iPad has extended to 2-3 weeks and that for the year, Apple expects to sell 65.6 millions iPads in 2012  and 90.6 million in 2013.

Fitch Ratings confirmed a AAA credit rating for the U.K. but it did change its outlook from stable to negative. The agency had mostly positive remarks about the country’s budget reform efforts, but warned in a press release that there is “very limited fiscal space to absorb further adverse economic shocks.”

7 Early Radar Stocks: Apple Tops $600 Per Share, eBay Downgraded and Freeport Ends Strike

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) increased 1.5 percent in early trading.  The tech giant broke through $600 per share for the first time ever Thursday morning. At least three analysts in the past month have upgraded their price targets to $700 or more.

AMC Networks Inc. (NASDAQ:AMCX) shares fell more than 2 percent after releasing fourth quarter earnings.  The company earned 40 cents per share, which missed estimates by 20 cents.

Don’t Miss: iPad 3 Revealed: Get Inside the Box

EBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) shares dropped 1.3 percent early Thursday.  The online auction company received a downgrade from Outperform to Neutral from Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS).  The firm kept its price target of $40 on shares.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX) shares gained 1.15 percent this morning.  The miner announced that the strike in Indonesia has ended.  First quarter copper sales volume is estimated to be reduced by 80 million pounds, gold production will be reduced by 125,000 ounces out of a targeted 425,000 ounces.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares declined 1 percent before the opening bell.  The company agreed to acquire NDS Group for $5 billion.  NDS is held 51 percent by private-equity firm Permira, while 49 percent is held by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS).  NDS is a U.K. provider of video content and software.

Investor Insight: Gold and Silver Dividends Are Getting Physical

Hot Stocks Mar. 15th: Online Resources, Vera Bradley, Yongye, Endocyte

Online Resources Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCC): Reported Q4 revenue $38.7M versus consensus $38.46M. Shares of Online Resources Corporation are trading 8.11% higher today.

Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRA): Jefferies expects shares of Vera Bradley to move lower in the near-term following the company’s weaker than expected outlook, but maintains a Buy rating on the stock. The firm lowered its price target for shares to $45 from $50 and says it would be a buyer of the stock on weakness. Shares of Vera Bradley, Inc. are trading 8.89% lower today.

Yongye International Inc (NASDAQ:YONG): Sees 2012 revenue $495M-$515M vs. $390.4M in 2011. The one consensus estimate is $277M. Shares of Yongye International Inc are trading 8.77% lower today.

Endocyte, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECYT): Wedbush said it agrees with Endocyte management that the company has met the EMA’s requirements for potential conditional approval of EC145 and EC20 in FR++ platinum resistant ovarian cancer patients. The firm reiterates an Outperform rating on the stock with a $16 price target following the company’s Q4 results. Shares of Endocyte, Inc. are trading 2.21% higher today.

Scholastic, InterMune, AMC, Guess? AIQ Attract High Trading Demand at S&P 1,400

Scholastic Corp (NASDAQ:SCHL): After Scholastic reported stronger than expected Q3 results, Gabelli believes that the company’s recently debuted e-reader app looks very promising and the firm maintains a Buy rating. Shares of Scholastic Corp are trading 18.34% higher today.

InterMune, Inc. (NASDAQ:ITMN): Jerfferies said InterMune Esbriet consensus estimates remain too high following the announcement by Germany’s Federal Joint Committee that the final assessment on clinical benefit of Esbriet has unquantifiable benefits. The firm continues to believe the drug is marginally efficacious at best. Shares are Underperform rated. Shares of InterMune, Inc. are trading 12.09% higher today.

AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX): Reported Q4 revenue $339.0M versus consensus $327.99M Shares of AMC Networks Inc are trading 3.48% lower today.

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES): The company sees FY13 revenue $2.74B-$2.78B versus consensus $2.83B. The company’s operating margin is expected to be between 12.5% to 13.0%. Shares of Guess?, Inc. are trading 11.8% lower today.

Alliance HealthCare Services, Inc. (NYSE:AIQ): Alliance HealthCare reiterates FY12 revenue view $470M-$500M, consensus $482.5M Shares of Alliance HealthCare Services, Inc. are trading 28.26% higher today.

Markets Buoyed by Apple Feeding Frenzy, Strengthening Job Market

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.12%, S&P +0.60%, Nasdaq +0.51%, Oil -0.02%, Gold +0.89%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $105.41 a barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising to $1,657.60 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 0.77% to settle at $32.43.

Hot Feature: IMF Rubber Stamps Greek Aid Package

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Jobs. Initial jobless claims fell to a four-year low last week, according to a Labor Department, helping push the S&P 500 to a four-year high. The index topped 1,400 for the first time since 2008 after initial jobless claims fell back down to their lowest level since the recession, after climbing slightly in the previous week, signaling steady and sustained growth in the job market.
Check out: Jobless Claims Drop to Four-Year Low

2) Banks. Financials have been in focus this week following the results of the Federal Reserve’s latest stress tests, which the majority of the nation’s largest banks passed, meaning they would be able to weather another deep depression. Bank of America and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) have been a couple of the best-performing stocks on the Dow today, but even Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Metlife (NYSE:MET) were trading higher today, despite a poor performance on the stress test.
Check Out: Will Citi Get Its Day in Court?

3) Stocks. The Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) feeding frenzy continued as shares topped $600 when markets opened this morning. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares slipped after the company announced its $5 billion bid to buy NDS Group, which is privately held by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) and Permira. Scholastic (NASDAQ:SCHL) shares surged after the company reported revenue of $468 million fueled by strong sales of the Hunger Games book series ahead of the film adaptation’s release next week.
Check Out: Apple Stock Sets Up Basecamp at $600

BONUS: Here’s How Mortgage Rates are Reacting to the Jobs Report

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsey Grossman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com