Friday’s Stock Market Winners: Hain Celestial, Pozen, Dillard’s

Among the biggest winners in Friday’s early trading are Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN), Pozen (Nasdaq: POZN) and Dillard’s (NYSE: DDS).

Top Percentage Gainers — Friday, May 14, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Gain
52-Week High 52-Week Low
Dillard’s (NYSE: DDS) $28.50 +10.8% $31.22 $7.10
Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN) $22.30 +5.3% $22.64 $14.45
Pozen (Nasdaq: POZN) $8.93 +0.8% $12.68 $5.16
*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 11:58AM Eastern Standard Time. Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

Pozen Showing Some Strength after Early May Losses

This morning’s sharply lower stock market is muting the upside for stocks that might have otherwise posted sharp gains today. Among the modest gainers: Pozen (Nasdaq: POZN), which has been the source of give-and-take among investors. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the company’s arthritis drug, Vimovo, was warmly greeted by investors in early May, but then shares slumped in later sessions, falling roughly -30%.

But investors are missing some clear positives. First, Vimovo may benefit from the fact that France-based NiCox saw a key arthritis drug get swatted down by the FDA earlier this week. Second, investors may be overlooking the fact that Pozen has another drug that treats ulcers that has scored very well in Phase 1 trials.

Action to Take –> Shares have ticked up a bit the past two sessions, and could have been up more sharply on Friday were it not for the heavy selling take place in the broader market. This is a rare biotech with a just-approved drug that could gain real traction, and another in the pipeline with blockbuster potential. Tale advantage of the noise to pick up shares in this promising upstart. But note that this is a speculative play and should be a small part of your portfolio. Also note that Pozen is unlikely to be sustainably profitable before 2013.


Hain Celestial Higher on Interest from Icahn

Last week, I anticipated that a cycle of lower earnings forecasts would cause shares of Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN) to drift lower. Well, fiscal (June) 2010 profit forecasts have dropped by a bit, but a well-respected investor has a different view of the stock. Carl Icahn has been a steady buyer in recent days: since bottoming last Thursday, shares have risen in every single session, and are up another +5% today, as Icahn officially filed a 13-D with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Icahn tends to pick companies that possess promising assets or brands, and then prods management to make shareholder-friendly changes.

Action to Take –> Wait for Icahn to articulate his beef with management before getting a sense of what to do with the stock.


Dillards’ Gain: A False Dawn?

Shares of retailer Dillard’s (NYSE: DDS) are one of the few stocks making major gains today. Shares are up nearly +11% after the retailer released respectable financial results earlier this morning. For a long time, the only reason to appreciate Dillard’s was for its massive real estate holdings, which often accounted for more than the share price. Shares have since quadrupled, and this is no longer a real estate value play.

#-ad_banner-#Yet as a retail play, Dillard’s still brings little cheer. First-quarter profits were quite impressive, though solely due to cost cuts. Quarterly same-store sales rebounded +2% from a year ago, but sales were absolutely dismal back then, and analysts had been hoping for a smarter snapback in sales. In truth, Dillard’s has lost much of its cache as rivals such as Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) and Target (NYSE: TGT) continue to steal away customers.

More than eight million shares of the company’s stock had been held short, which partially explains today’s gains as shorts are forced to cover their positions. Shorts tend to like this stock as management developed a reputation as ineffectual retail operators. Nothing from today’s report should change that perception.

Action to Take –> A paltry +2% same-store sales gain after miserable sales a year earlier tells you this retailer has not yet learned how to win back many of the customers lost over the years. The shorts were right, but early. Take no action now, as shares are likely to tread water. But if the broader retail sector softens, Dillard’s, with its uninspiring merchandise, may feel the pain even more than others, as was the case in this last downturn. The stock, at that point, would make a very appealing short candidate.