Michael Kors Jumps, but J.C. Penney Falters Again

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.

Following Monday's collapse, stocks rebounded today as the market's focus returned to earnings season after fears about a sharp drop in new orders sparked a sell-off yesterday. Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) finished 72 points, or 0.5% higher, as drugmakers Merck and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) led the way, each gaining 2.8%, after Pfizer got an upgrade from Jeffries. The research firm said the company's reorganization and promising cancer treatment should help drive long-term growth. Like many drugmakers, Pfizer has struggled with the so-called "patent cliff" as a number of its blockbuster drugs, including Lipitor, have recently lost their patent. The main focus of the company's restructuring is to divide operations into groups, with one focusing on newer drugs and the other examining products approaching the cliff.

Elsewhere, Michael Kors (NYSE: KORS  ) finishing up 11% after the fashion label once again delivered blowout quarter, and coming against an otherwise dismal holiday season, the performance looked especially impressive. Kors delivered earnings of $1.11 per share, well ahead of the analyst mark at $0.86, while sales shot up 59% on a whopping 28% same-store sales growth. The comparable sales figure shows that growth came both organically and through as the clothing-maker appears to be firing on cylinders. Shares are up over 60% over the past year, but based on today's report they have a lot more room to run.

J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) wasn't faring as well, falling 11% after releasing comparable sales numbers for its fourth quarter. The struggling retailers said same-store sales grew 2%, but that seemed to disappoint the market, which was hoping for a better performance as Penney desperately needs to mend its bottom line. Analysts had estimated growth in the category at 4.2%. Also disconcerting to investors was Penney's lack of information on gross margin, indicating that those increased sales may have come from steep discounting, meaning its net loss may have actually gotten worse in the quarter.

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