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Why Twitter, Papa John's International, and Zogenix Jumped Today

Steve Symington, The Motley Fool

Major benchmarks resumed climbing on Thursday, effectively recouping yesterday's losses as investors shifted their focus away from trade-war tensions and back toward the start of corporate earnings season.

But several individual stocks climbed more than most, including Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), Papa John's International (NASDAQ: PZZA), and Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX). Here's why they did so well.

Wooden Twitter bird logo on a shrub

Image source: Twitter.

When account deletions are a good thing

Shares of Twitter jumped 3.2% after multiple analysts weighed in with positive notes on the social media leader.

The timing of the calls is no coincidence; Twitter stock plunged early this week on reports that the company deleted over 70 million fake and suspicious accounts in May and June, spurring concerns over its growth and the overall size of its actual monthly active user base.

Today, however, Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry reiterated his buy rating and increased his per-share price target on Twitter stock from $40 to $55 -- or a roughly 25% premium from yesterday's close -- arguing that Twitter's "information quality" initiatives have been well-received by advertisers and should drive incremental top-line growth.

Meanwhile, MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson voiced a similar sentiment and reiterated his own buy rating on Twitter stock.

Papa John's positive leadership change

Papa John's stock surged 11.1% today in the wake of the resignation of the pizza chain's founder, John Schnatter, as chairman of the board. Schnatter will remain on the company's board of directors, and Papa John's will appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks.

In most situations, such a prominent executive change wouldn't be considered a good thing. But shares fell yesterday after Forbes reported that Schnatter had used a racial slur during a conference call in May -- albeit in the context of criticizing KFC spokesman Colonel Sanders for using the term without facing public backlash. Still, Schnatter apologized for the incident this morning, calling his choice of language "inappropriate and hurtful." 

It certainly doesn't help that, only a few months ago, Schnatter stepped down as CEO of Papa John's after condemning NFL anthem protests and partly blaming the league for slowing sales at his namesake chain. The NFL ended its sponsorship with the company in response.

Zogenix positive trial results

Finally, shares of Zogenix jumped 20.7% following the pharmaceutical company's announcement of encouraging top-line results from its second phase 3 clinical trial of ZX008, a drug candidate for the treatment of children and young adults with Dravet syndrome.

The study met its primary end point, with ZX008 achieving a 54.7% greater reduction in monthly convulsive seizures compared to a placebo. The study also met all key secondary endpoints, with ZX008 demonstrating a greater-than-50% reduction in seizure frequency and longest seizure-free intervals in patients as compared to those using placebo.

"These impressive study results show the significant impact the addition of ZX008 made in reducing the burden of convulsive seizures for patients who are not adequately controlled using stiripentol, the standard of care for the treatment of Dravet syndrome in Europe," stated Dr. Rima Nabbout, the principal investigator of the study. Nabbout further suggested that, if approved, ZX008 could be a "transformative treatment" for the syndrome, which has few available treatment options today.

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Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.