Harman International Industries Inc./DE/ (HAR), Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (CLF): Today’s Best Stocks

Although we don’t believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes — just in case they’re material to our investing thesis.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published yesterday, post market close.

If things come in threes, then investors and the S&P 500 are certainly glad to see this three-day losing streak come to a grinding halt. Amazingly enough, earnings, not the Fed, was the big reason the broad-based S&P 500 found its legs today — but it did get a nice bump from today’0s jobless claims figure, as well.

Weekly jobless claims, coming off their best levels in nearly six years, rose by 5,000 this week, to a seasonally adjusted 333,000. In a perfect world, we’d like to never see a rise in jobless claims, though all things considered, this was below economists’ forecasts. which had called for a rise in jobless claims of 12,000. To economists and investors, this data would signal that the jobs market is a lot healthier than anyone imagines, and would portend that the unemployment rate has a decent shot at heading even lower from its current level of 7.4%.

Following a topsy-turvy morning, the S&P 500 finished the day higher by 6.57 points (0.39%), to close at 1,697.48.

Leading today’s “Can you hear me now chant” is audio equipment specialist Harman International Industries Inc./DE/ (NYSE:HAR), which rose 10.7% after outlining its fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2016 forecast. On Tuesday, Harman reported rather tepid fourth-quarter results that were constrained by an ongoing restructuring charge, despite the fact that it also announced a doubling of its dividend (from $0.15/quarter to $0.30/quarter). What really invigorated investors was Harman’s projection that it will earn $3.85 in EPS next year with EBITDA margins of 10.5% on approximately $4.7 billion in revenue, and that by 2016, it expects to generate $6.05 billion in revenue with EBITDA margins of 13%. By those standards, Harman would still be relatively cheap, and its dividend could have a lot of room to run higher.

Today’s two other top gainers were heavily shorted mining companies Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) and Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE:NEM), which added 8.9% and 8.7%, respectively. Although there was no company-specific news that sent either stock higher, gold prices had their best day in weeks, with a $27/oz. scamper higher as the dollar weakened dramatically against overseas currencies.