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Friday proved a fitting end to a relatively quiet week for the stock market, with major-market benchmarks falling 0.1% to 0.2%. After the substantial volatility in stocks so far in 2014, this week was a respite for many investors, but the lazy market day didn't hold back shares of Strayer Education (NASDAQ: STRA ) , Alexander & Baldwin (NYSE: ALEX ) , or Tile Shop Holdings (NASDAQ: TTS ) from making impressive climbs today.
Strayer soared 38% as the for-profit educator posted fourth-quarter results that were far stronger than even the most optimistic projections from analysts. Although total enrollment at Strayer's schools fell 14%, adjusted earnings were almost a third higher than investors expected, and even an overall 12.5% drop in revenue wasn't as bad as most had feared. Moreover, new enrollment declines appear to be slowing, with the latest figures showing just a 2% drop. With the company pointing to its restructuring during the quarter as a step in the right direction, investors clearly think that the stock has turned the corner after a long decline.
Alexander & Baldwin rose 8% after last night's earnings report included net income that nearly tripled from year-ago figures, on sales that were up about 150%. The diversified company with huge exposure to the Hawaiian Islands now has real-estate, agricultural, natural-resources, and infrastructure-construction businesses, and although low sugar prices hurt its agribusiness segment, solid performance in its other divisions helped Alexander & Baldwin's overall resorts improve substantially. The company's acquisition of Grace Pacific also helped it enhance its focus on Hawaii, which it hopes will pay off as economic conditions continue to improve.
Tile Shop Holdings gained 14% as the specialty-flooring company's earnings report showed revenue growth of 25%, with same-store sales gains of 10.1% helping to demonstrate the company's financial health as conditions in the housing market have improved recently. In addition, the company's 2014 guidance included comps growth of 5% to 7%, with further gains in revenue to a range between $285 million to $295 million, representing 24% to 28% growth over full-year 2013 sales. The results brought a sigh of relief to investors who had feared past allegations of fraud from short-selling firm Gotham City Research, but even after today's gains, Tile Shop Holdings remains well below its peak from last fall.
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