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Wal-Mart, Alphabet, Monsanto Among the Day’s Biggest Newsmakers

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The S&P 500 is down by 0.84% this morning, while the Nasdaq and Dow Jones are each down by nearly identical amounts following the release yesterday afternoon of minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s April 26-27 meeting. Those minutes, which suggest a rate hike could be possible by June, were a surprise to market participants, which had placed the odds of a hike as of June at a mere 15%. The Fed minutes have overshadowed positive earnings results from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and mixed results from Dicks Sporting Goods Inc (NYSE:DKS), which we’ll look at in this article. We’ll also take a peek at Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)‘s latest developer conference and a possible merger between Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) and Bayer AG (ADR) (OTCMKTS:BAYRY).

At Insider Monkey, we track around 785 hedge funds and institutional investors. Through extensive backtests, we have determined that imitating some of the stocks that these investors are collectively bullish on can help retail investors generate double digits of alpha per year (see more details about our small-cap strategy).

Cool Spring Not Enough to Stop Wal-Mart

Let’s start with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), which has gained an impressive 9.14% today after the release of its first quarter of fiscal year 2017 financial results this morning. Revenue for the fiscal quarter was up by 0.9% year-over-year to $115.9 billion despite international sales slipping by 7.2% due to currency exchange headwinds. While profit declined by 7.8% to $3.1 billion, the company’s EPS of $0.98 still handily beat estimates of $0.88. Walmart U.S. President and CEO Greg Foran added that while the company’s investment in higher wages for its employees has contributed to a dent in profits, the retailer is also starting to see the benefits from that investment, including the fact that many employees end up spending their enhanced wages at the very company they are getting them from.

15 investors tracked by Insider Monkey added Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to their portfolios in the first quarter, including John A. Levin‘s Levin Capital Strategies, which opened a position of 1.53 million shares during the quarter.

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Google I/O Conference Shows Off Several New Products, Apps, and Upgrades

Shares of Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are 1.04% in the red today in the midst of the company’s Google I/O conference being held in Mountain View, California from May 18 to May 20. Alphabet revealed several innovations during yesterday’s session, including Google Assistant (the company’s answer to Siri), which will also be built into its newly-revealed chat bot app Allo (which can generate replies for users to quickly choose, based on the conversation) and its Amazon Echo-like Home. Other reveals included the voice chat app Duo, the Android-based virtual reality platform Daydream, and updates to Android and Android Wear.

Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) ranked as the second-most popular stock among the investors in our database as of December 31 and there were several big-name investors who added the stock to their portfolios in the first quarter, including Dan Loeb, Ray Dalio, and Barry Rosenstein.

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On the next page we’ll run through the Monsanto/Bayer merger hype and the latest quarterly results at retailer Dicks Sporting Goods.

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