A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week.
March 21, 2014 close: $40.16
up $2.46 or 6.5% over week
If you thought playing Candy Crush on your iPad was entertaining, imagine the hours of fun you’ll have building Excel spreadsheets and writing Word documents. Well, at least Microsoft investors are excited: The shares are at levels not seen since the dot-com boom, boosted by reports that Office will soon be available for Apple tablets. Getting rid of Steve Ballmer as CEO hasn’t hurt Mister Softee’s stock, either.
March 21, 2014 close: $92.95
up $8.92 or 10.6% over week
Easy ways to make money from convenience stores:
1) “Forget” to pay;
2) Rob them at gunpoint;
3) Invest in them.
For Couche-Tard shareholders, owning the stock has generated more profits than any illegal activity could. The shares have soared sevenfold in the past five years, propelled by a string of acquisitions, and they jumped again this week after the chain posted strong third-quarter results and named COO Brian Hannasch to replace Alain Bouchard as CEO.
March 21, 2014 close: $37.82 (U.S.)
down $1.16 or 3% over week
Contrary to popular belief, playing videogames doesn’t necessarily make a person violent. However, owning shares of videogame retailer GameStop often has that effect. Investors threw their game controllers and kicked their TVs after Wal-Mart announced a new videogame trade-in service, taking direct aim at one of GameStop’s main businesses. With the shares down about 31 per cent in the past five months, you can forgive investors for losing it.
March 21, 2014 close: $54.99
up $8 or 17% over week
Bad: Buying a new car and hitting a pole on your way out of the parking lot.
Good: Owning shares of AutoCanada, the country’s largest publicly traded owner of car dealerships. Fresh from posting a 45-per-cent jump in fourth-quarter profit, the company said it is getting approached by more potential sellers, including groups that own multiple dealerships. With 10 to 12 acquisitions expected in the next two years, the stock’s giving investors a smooth ride.
March 21, 2014 close: $18.20 (U.S.)
down $1.96 or 9.7% over week
Symantec’s software is designed to protect your PC from viruses and malware. Unfortunately, the company has been unable to protect its own stock price. The shares plunged after the maker of Norton products said its CEO left after less than two years – the latest in a string of departures that raise questions about the company’s turnaround in an era of falling PC sales. With Norton struggling to gain traction in the mobile market, the stock could be infected for a while.
Follow John Heinzl on Twitter: