Michael Kors Crushes Expectations, J.C. Penney Crushes Investors

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was able to recover a small portion of the substantial losses it incurred yesterday, although the index is still down more than 250 points this week. The year is young, and so far the market isn't treating investors to the euphoric gains we saw in 2013. The Dow is already off 1,131 points, or 6.8%, from its 2013 closing levels. A combination of the Fed's taper, worries about Asian and emerging market economies, and already gaudy valuations has sent the stock market reeling in 2014. Tuesday offered a small reprieve from the year's relentless downtrend, as the Dow added 72 points, or 0.5%, to end at 15,445.

While it might shock or scare you to hear that the Dow's slumped more than 1,100 points in about a month's time, the pullback in 2014 sounds bigger than it really is. We haven't even reached "correction" status yet; Wall Street reserves that dreaded term for a 10% pullback. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) stock helped keep the Dow above ground today, adding 1.5%. Investors will be watching the stock carefully tomorrow afternoon when Disney reports quarterly earnings, so with very little company-specific news today, shares could be popping in anticipation of a standout quarter on Wednesday. 

In the retail sector, Michael Kors (NYSE: KORS  ) stock rallied 17.3% after posting a blowout quarter of its own. The luxury fashion company has taken high-end retail by storm in recent years, as its popularity has soared at the expense of rivals like Coach. In fact, the contrast between the two competitors couldn't be clearer: Michael Kors is growing margins, same-store sales, and expanding in North America and Europe, while Coach saw declining revenues and a contraction in the North American market. The changing of the guard couldn't be more obvious -- or more painful for Coach shareholders. 

Few investors know pain as intricately as J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) shareholders. J.C. Penney stock plunged another 10.5% today, even after the retailer grew same-store sales for the first time in two years. Same-store sales grew by 2% in the holiday quarter, which was less than half the growth rate Wall Street expected. To give some sense of how little confidence the market has in this company, consider this: Tuesday's $5.08 per-share closing price was the lowest in 34 years. This is not what investors hoping for a turnaround expected, and it seems like with each passing day the turnaround is becoming more hope and less reality.

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