What the Market Taught Me This Week

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Earnings season has begun, and for the 10% Promise Team, that means another busy week of reporting on wild stock moves. Here's what I learned from this week's coverage.

Intel helps everyone but itself
To this Fool, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) may be the most befuddling stock in the market. The company operates in a high-tech business with lots of barriers, has tons of cash on hand, and beats estimates every quarter. Despite all that, the stock can't seem to convince the market that it deserves a forward P/E ratio greater than 10.

Intel's earnings may not have helped its own stock, but its increased capital spending caused its suppliers to hit the roof. Among others, Nanometrics (Nasdaq: NANO  ) and Brooks Automation bounced higher than a superball after investors learned that Intel would spend $9 billion on capital projects in 2011.

Intel puts out great results quarter after quarter ... and everyone in the industry benefits except Intel. One day, that may make sense to me. For now, I'm scratching my head.

Solar is one tough trade
I follow solar closely, and it never fails to throw surprises my way. After diving late last year on analyst downgrades, and rising early this year on analyst upgrades, solar stocks soared this week on speculation that Germany would cut its feed-in tariff (FIT). Wait, what?

The logic goes something like this: A higher FIT would have led to a cap on solar installations, while a lower FIT will eliminate that cap, allowing developers to install as much solar as their hearts desire. This hypothetical increase in demand would soak up more of the solar panels saturating the market in late 2011, in turn helping solar manufacturers. Investors were buying that logic -- and lots of shares of LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK  ) and Yingli Green Energy -- on the news.

The FDA is still king
(Nasdaq: MNKD  ) took a punch to the gut when the FDA decided not to approve its Afrezza, again. More than one Foolish writer has expressed skepticism about this stock, and this week, that skepticism won out. The company isn't giving up on Afrezza, but the market seems to have given up on MannKind.

Consider this further proof that speculating on pharma stocks isn't for the faint of heart.

Sometimes I throw my hands up
Every now and then, the market does something crazy with no good explanation. This week, Sify Technologies popped on no news; then, a day later, it gave back much of those gains, again for no apparent reason. Small-cap stocks have a much greater tendency to make those kinds of moves, so keep the wild swings in perspective if you're investing in that slice of the market.

Forbes is moving markets?
I've grudgingly accepted that analysts move markets, but this week, Mesabi Trust (NYSE: MSB  ) took a dive on no news save very misleading article from Forbes. The article implied that Mesabi couldn't keep up its dividend, because the recently announced dividend was lower than last quarter's payout. However, Mesabi's dividends don't follow a straight line; if we compare to last year's quarter -- arguably a much fairer comparison -- the dividend was actually up $0.10.

Do we really have to add Forbes articles to the market-movers list? I hope not.

This earnings season won't be so smooth
The biggest lesson this week is a much larger observation on company performance. For the last four to six quarters, we've come to expect blowout results from nearly every company. This quarter looks much different, and we're only starting earnings season. We've had some great results from big-cap stocks like Intel, but not everyone has been so lucky.

Weaker-than-expected earnings and outlook have pushed a few stocks sharply lower, including F5 Networks (Nasdaq: FFIV  ) and LED maker Cree (Nasdaq: CREE  ) . Before you jump to conclusions, remember that both companies are volatile growth stocks. The market probably over blew the hiccups they're seeing, but we may still get more "misses" than we're used to this quarter.

The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel, a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Motley Fool Options has also recommended buying calls on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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