Google and Amazon Earnings, Plus Under Armour impresses, and GDP Earns a Weekend

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Yes. Finally. Not only are we applauding word that the cast of Seinfeld is hitting up Tom's Restaurant for a one-off reunion, but Wall Street got back on track. After Wednesday's stock market dive, the Dow (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) rebounded 110 hefty points Thursday on some big econ news.

1. U.S. GDP pops 3.2%
The beautiful number of the day is 3.2%. This pretty figure is the growth rate of the entire American economy in the last three months of 2013, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP -- which means total growth of 1.9% for all of 2013 according to Thursday's first report of fourth-quarter GDP from the Commerce Department.
A midget among dwarfs. With other developed economies experiencing little or negative growth in 2013 (cough... all of Europe), America's 1.9% number looks pretty damn good. Clinton and George W. probably would have puked at seeing the relatively tiny 1.9% growth, but in this slow global economy, President Obama should be pumped about the strong momentum of the past two quarters (4.1% in Q3, and 3.2% this past Q4).
The good things boosting GDP are consumer spending, business investment, and exports. All are booming. To most economists, it's been the government cuts to federal, state, and local spending budgets holding things back (the 16-day government shutdown alone represented a 0.3% contraction in the fourth quarter). Despite an unproductive Congress and Bieber's clashes with the highway patrol, investors like that America's still growing strong.

2. Amazon sales got Christmas coal
The company famous for billions of revenues, but no profits, (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) reported disappointing fourth-quarter results. Revenues rose 20%, to $26 billion, and the company actually reported a profit of $239 million. Usually, Amazon is too busy multiplying its warehouses into more warehouses to worry about profit; but this holiday season, the huge company made $0.51 per share.
CEO Jeff Bezos' outlook was a big frown, which contributed to the sell-off in shares after the report. Investors pumped AMZN stock up 63% last year -- not for profits (it's barely making any yet) -- but for its continued gains in market share that should lead to future profits. The forecast for earnings, revenues, and market share just didn't stack up to analysts' lofty expectations.
Warning to all Amazonoholics: Amazon said Thursday that your favorite $79 annual Prime membership that gives you two-day free shipping to buy stuff you don't actually need could rise in price by 51%. Amazon is also expanding its grocery delivery service to two new cities. LA, San Fran, and Seattle... NYC envies you.
Since drones aren't feasible (yet!), Amazon hired an army of 70,000 temp workers to get you your goods during the holiday season, which was one reason why costs rose for Amazon. But all we remember is the embarrassing failed Xmas Day deliveries botched by UPS -- for which Amazon issued $20 credits to all its suffering customers (slightly hurting quarterly results). But can the trust be bought back?

3. Google earnings top expectations
Google this: Shares of the search engine that you probably used two minutes ago jumped more than 4% in after-hours trading Thursday, after Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) reported a projection-beating $16.9 billion in revenues last quarter.

The takeaway is that Google's earnings figures were pretty hot, but the big news from Google actually came out on Wednesday -- Google is finally selling its Motorola unit to Chinese tech mammoth Lenovo. That's because Google lost more than $350 million in the last six months on Motorola, which it bought to boost its smartphone and tablet manufacturing capabilities. Hardware just isn't Google's bag, baby.

4. Cold weather helps Under Armour earnings surge
These earnings fit just right. Shares of Baltimore-based Under Armour (NYSE: UA  ) lept 23% Thursday like a young/sober Dennis Rodman, as sales rose 35% (to $683 million) compared to the fourth quarter of 2012 -- that's UA's 15th straight quarter of at least 20% quarterly sales growth. Now this is a sports dynasty.

The takeaway is that the surge was led by new lines of Under Armour's "Cold Gear," which is like Lululemon with a couple of hits of HGH and a pinch of awesome. Now investors are wondering how UA will maintain its high 2014 forecasts while facing its two biggest challenges -- developing its non-apparel business (particularly footwear), and international expansion.

  • The Reuters/UMich Consumer Sentiment Survey for January
  • Fourth-Quarter Earnings: MasterCard, Chevron

As originally published on

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