If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
It's earnings season. NetScout is one of the many companies besting Wall Street's targets. Landing ahead of analysts' expectations isn't enough to make the cut in this weekly missive. NetScout earned a spot because of its unlikely success.
NetScout monitors uptime for websites where downtime isn't an option. As you can imagine, NetScout's biggest customers are government (think defense) and financial services, where clients expect brokerage transactions to be executed immediately. These would seem to be two of the lousiest sectors to specialize in, given government spending cutbacks and trader skittishness. Well, NetScout's booking in those two sectors has actually climbed 30% over the past year.
2. Freezing fat cells can heat up an IPO market
Despite their name, nobody loves love handles.
Along comes Zeltiq Aesthetics (Nasdaq: ZLTQ ) , a company with a nonsurgical and FDA-approved technique that freezes away fat cells. Zeltiq isn't profitable, but its revenue is growing nicely as dermatologists and plastic surgeons embrace the CoolSculpting treatment.
Zeltiq went public at $13 on Wednesday. It's only the second company that underwriters have taken public since mid-August. The stock closed at $15.50 on its first trading day, and that's an encouraging sign for other companies looking to go public.
3. Ken Burns can make you rich
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) continues to build its digital catalog.
The leading online retailer expanded its deal with PBS, giving its Amazon Prime customers streaming access to Ken Burns' famous documentaries as well as top PBS shows including NOVA and Antiques Roadshow. Even 200 of Julia Child's The French Chef episodes from the PBS archives will be made available.
Amazon wasn't even offering streaming at no additional cost to its Prime loyalty shopping subscribers when the year began, and now its library is up to 12,000 titles.
This is all coming at a good time, since the Kindle Fire -- Amazon's $199 tablet that will have access to these streams -- is now just weeks away from shipping.
4. Seeing the big picture
Kodak (NYSE: EK ) seemed to be at death's door a few weeks ago, but now it's shaking its moneymakers.
The patent-rich shutterbug pioneer is licensing its laser projection patents to IMAX (NYSE: IMAX ) , giving the premium movie-screening specialist the technology to improve the quality of its larger theaters.
It's a win-win deal, as IMAX is likely taking advantage of a cash-hungry Kodak, while the struggling photofinishing giant gets to hold on to its juiciest patents in other specialties.
5. Putting its yuan where its mouth is
Chinese online gaming pioneer Shanda Interactive (Nasdaq: SNDA ) surged this week after a group of investors -- including its CEO and members of his family -- made a preliminary proposal to buy the 32% of the company that it doesn't currently own. In short, the CEO wants to take Shanda private.
It's too late to act on this news as a Shanda investor, but I see this as a positive development for Chinese equities. Many stocks have been beaten down to ridiculous levels, largely because investors don't feel as if they can trust the financials. Paying up to take a company private is a pretty good indicator that insiders know that it's far more valuable than what the market is saying. A few more privatization efforts would actually work wonders for the legitimate companies that stick around.
If you want to see whether these companies continue to do the smart thing, track them through My Watchlist.