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.
1. Home on the range
Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) picked a timely day to post better-than-expected quarterly results.
The homebuilder's heartier-than-expected profitability came just as the lastest S&P/Case-Shiller data shows that prices for homes in 20 major metropolitan cities posted their largest year-over-year gain for the month of April since the sudsy real estate bubble days of 2006. The 2.5% sequential gain -- from March to April -- is actually the largest monthly increase on record.
Against this welcome backdrop, Lennar came through with another blowout financial report. Pre-tax earnings more than tripled, and the developer's ultimate $0.61 a share in net income was almost twice as much as what Wall Street was expecting.
Lennar's revenue of $1.43 billion was also comfortably ahead of the $1.32 billion that the pros were targeting.
It wasn't much. The increase averages a mere 1% across some beverages. However, the increase comes at a time when coffee bean prices are dropping. In fact, Starbucks pushed through a 10% price cut on the packaged coffees that it sells at retail locations outside of its stores just last month.
This would normally seem like a dumb move, but Starbucks knows what it's doing. The economy's improving, and now it has a golden opportunity to juice up its margins by raising prices as its product costs are lower than they were a year ago.
Starbucks is also introducing a lot of new menu items this week -- orange-spiced coffee, salads, and even a third addition to its Refreshers line -- so folks trekking out to Starbucks for their caffeinated hits may miss the increase against the onslaught of menu additions.
3. Pandora puts the pedal to the metal
Pandora (NYSE: P ) operates the country's most popular streaming music service, but it wants to spend more time with you on the open road.
With half of radio consumption taking place in cars, it's easy to see why Pandora is making a big push for native in-dash integration.
Pandora announced on Tuesday that it expects a third of all new cars sold in this country this year will have Pandora installed. The dot-com darling also revealed that it has received more than 2.5 million unique activations from the nearly two dozen automotive brands and eight aftermarket manufacturers that it partners with to allow smartphone owners to seamlessly access Pandora streams through their car dashboard entertainment systems.
Pandora is still far from perfect. Most of its more than 70-million active users are freeloaders. However, automobile integration will be an important differentiator as more companies jump into this niche.
4. Carousel of Progress
You can admire companies willing to put their money where their mouths are when the going gets tough, but it's even better to see them doing so when things are going well.
Progress Software (NASDAQ: PRGS ) moved higher after posting better-than-expected quarterly results this week. The provider of developer tools software saw revenue rise by a better-than-expected 10%, and its adjusted net income of $0.27 a share blew past the $0.22 a share that the market was forecasting.
However, the reason why Progress is being singled out in this list is that it also committed to spending another $100 million during the latter half of this year on share buybacks. It's not going to coast on strong financials, and that's the right thing to do.
5. Google gets in the game
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) is working on a video game console and a smartwatch.
Both devices would naturally feast off of the search giant's booming Android ecosystem.
Both moves make perfect sense. Ouya hit the market on Tuesday as a third-party Android gaming device. The race for iOS- or Android-centric smartwatches began when Pebble introduced its popular Kickstarter-funded high-tech watch.
A report doesn't make things real, but Google would be doing Android a big favor if it can beat iOS to the smartwatch and console fronts.
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