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These 2 Stocks Soared Even as Markets Stayed Skittish Tuesday

Often, the stock market manages to find a way to bounce convincingly after a drubbing like the one that it has seen in the past few days. However, Tuesday didn’t bring a whole lot of relief to the markets, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) continued to move lower. Only the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) managed to escape the day with modest gains.

Index

Daily Percentage Change

Daily Point Change

Dow

(0.50%)

(152)

S&P 500

(0.38%)

(14)

Nasdaq

+0.18%

+19

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Yet even with the market remaining in a downbeat mood, there were a couple of major bright spots among large-cap stocks. FedEx (NYSE: FDX) is widely recognized as a bellwether of economic activity, and its stock jumped on news that could signal a shift in the way the shipping company has handled itself to date. Meanwhile, Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR) has seen plenty of interest from investors given the strong energy markets , and owners of the stock got a surprise offer from the company’s largest shareholder.

FedEx flies higher

Shares of FedEx finished the day up 14%. The shipping company made several announcements that restored investor confidence in its long-term future prospects.

Newly appointed FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam was pleased to  tell investors that the board of directors had approved a 53% increase in the company’s quarterly dividend. Shareholders will now receive $1.15 per share, which will take the stock’s yield above 2%.

In addition, the board will add two new independent directors. Amy Lane and Jim Vena are joining the board as a result of a cooperation agreement that FedEx made with activist investment company D.E. Shaw. Subramaniam confirmed that a third independent director will join the board in the future after D.E. Shaw and FedEx agree to a selectee.

Lastly, FedEx adjusted its long-term incentive plan for executive compensation to include a specific reference to stock performance relative to the broader market. With the formula getting adjusted to de-emphasize capital investment, FedEx is signaling a shift toward a more direct connection between top-level pay and long-term share performance.

Investors are pleased to see the internal changes at FedEx. They won’t make the macroeconomic environment any easier for the company to navigate, but they will at least eliminate a source of conflict that has been a distraction for quite a while.

Continental gets a buyout bid

Elsewhere, shares of Continental Resources finished higher by 15%. The stock  reacted to an offer from the energy company’s founder to do a complete buyout of fellow shareholders.

Harold Hamm sent a letter to the Continental Board of Directors offering to pay $70 per share to acquire the company and take it private. Hamm and members of his family already own about 83% of Continental’s outstanding stock, and the founder made it clear that he wasn’t interested in selling his stake in Continental or pursuing any other type of strategic alternative other than taking full control of it. If an independent committee chooses not to recommend the transaction, Hamm made it clear that he and his family would remain as long-term investors in the energy company.

The stock climbed well above the $70 per-share mark, signaling that investors would either want more money from Hamm or would prefer to hang onto their shares outright. Even if the deal doesn’t end up going through, it does signal that interest in the booming energy industry remains at extremely high levels and could remain there for some time.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends FedEx. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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