HP Caps Market Comeback with Blowout Results

A day that began with a market freefall ended with stock indexes recovering most of their losses — and a blowout earnings report from HP after the bell.

Fears of a Countrywide Financial bankruptcy, the nation’s biggest mortgage lender, sent stocks plunging for much of the day on Thursday, with the Dow down more than 340 points at its low. But stocks began rallying in the afternoon on rumors of an emergency Federal Reserve meeting and a rally in financial stocks on reports of a cash infusion for Bear Stearns . By the close, the Dow was down just 15 points.

HP gave investors more good news after the close. The company’s quarterly earnings came in at 71 cents a share, a nickel better than analysts expected. Sales rose 16% from the year-ago quarter to $25.4 billion, $300 million better than forecast.

A 54% jump in notebook sales provided much of the upside, as did a 74% increase in software sales, thanks to Mercury Interactive.

HP raised current quarter sales guidance to $27-$27.2 billion and earnings to 80-81 cents, both well above estimates.

HP shares gained 2% after hours on the report.

Dell also made headlines after the bell, reporting that its long accounting investigation is over and it will restate four years of results. The cumulative effect of the restatement will be $50-$150 million, the company said. Dell, which will report quarterly results Aug. 30, was up 2% on the news.

Network Appliance was a bright spot during Thursday’s trading session, jumping 4.6% after raising guidance.

Lamson and Sessions soared on a buyout deal with Thomas and Betts .

Transmeta fell on a reverse stock split.

The Nasdaq lost 7 to 2451, the S&P 500 rose 4 to 1411, and the Dow lost 15 to 12,845. Volume soared to 6.3 billion shares on the NYSE, and 3.36 billion on the Nasdaq. Declining issues led by a 20-13 margin on the NYSE, and 17-13 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 58% on the NYSE, and 65% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 11-1080 on the NYSE, and 36-395 on the Nasdaq.

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