As tensions mounted over the weekend in Ukraine, stocks opened the week on a downswing with investors seeking safety in less-volatile assets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished down 154 points, or 0.9%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.7%. In Russia, an index of Moscow stocks fell 11%.
Outside of foreign affairs, the news was more promising as the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index came off an eight-month low, improving from 51.3 to 53.2, better than estimates at 51.6. New orders and backlogs improved, but production declined. Elsewhere, the Commerce Department said January consumer spending moved up 0.4%, above expectations of 0.1%, but February auto sales were flat as bad weather seemed to cool off the auto recovery.
Turning to individual stocks, Nu Skin Enterprises (NYSE: NUS ) finished down 11% after a weak outlook in its first-quarter report. The stock has been under pressure since the Chinese government's official newspaper accused it of being a pyramid scheme in January. Though Nu Skin has denied the charges, the company in the process of conducting an audit on its Chinese operations and has temporarily suspended its sales promotion it is fastest-growing market. As a result, Nu Skin now expects first-quarter sales of $650-$670 million, below estimates of $732 million. The skin-care products maker would not give full-year projections until the audit is complete, but shares look cheap for the company's growth rate, which is still above 20%. If the report is clean, shares should quickly rebound.
After hours, another company was reporting good news out of China. Vipshop Holdings (NYSE: VIPS ) shares were up 21% after the Chinese online retailer reported blowout fourth-quarter earnings. Per-share profits came in at $0.49, scooting past estimates of $0.71 a share while revenues jumped 117.3% to $651 million, well ahead of expectations at $561.7 million. First-quarter guidance was also much better than expected as the company sees revenue at $640-$650 million against the consensus at $544.4 million. CEO Eric Shen said "a dedicated focus on strengthening our core operations including expanding and optimizing of our product offering, ramping up warehousing capabilities and enhancing our merchandising and IT infrastructures," enabled the growth of its "unique flash sales business model." That strategy is clearly paying off as shares of Vipshop are now up more than 500% in the last year with meaningful profit growth to boot. At a market cap near $10 billion, the stock is unlikely to appreciate like that again, but sales are still doubling. With top-line growth like that, I'd expect the stock to keep moving higher.
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