On Friday, the stock market continued in the same direction it has moved throughout the week, with investors looking at this weekend's referendum in the Crimean region of Ukraine as a pivotal moment in the conflict with Russia. Given the dramatic implications the decision could have on the world economy in light of expected sanctions if Russia moves forward to annex Crimea, the modest drops of about a quarter percent for major-market benchmarks seemed reasonable. Yet JA Solar Holdings (NASDAQ: JASO ) , ANN (NYSE: ANN ) , and magicJack VocalTec (NASDAQ: CALL ) defied the down market and climbed higher.
For Chinese solar stock JA Solar, today's 8% gain stemmed from an analyst upgrade of the stock immediately before its earnings report on Monday. Axiom Capital boosted its target price on JA Solar by almost 10 times, completely reversing course from a previous sell rating and hoping that the solar player can deliver on expectations to post a modest profit for the fourth quarter and for 2014. Given the strong tailwinds that solar companies have enjoyed lately, it's essential for JA Solar to take maximum advantage now in case conditions in the industry get worse in the future.
Women's retailer ANN rose almost 8% after announcing it would make a strategic realignment. The announcement came along with fourth-quarter earnings, in which the parent company of the Loft and Ann Taylor stores said that same-store sales rose 2.9%, along with a faster 5.7% rate at Loft. Net income doubled, but ANN said that the current quarter could face problems due to winter weather and high levels of promotional discounting. Yet investors focused on the longer-term potential from the realignment, which will better integrate its stores and its e-commerce strategy, and job cuts of about 100 workers should cut costs as well.
For magicJack VocalTec, today's 8% rise came from follow-through buying after yesterday's 20% jump on positive earnings results. Investors applauded the extent to which the voice-over-Internet provider has managed to grow, even in a competitive environment, with both Vonage (NYSE: VG ) and 8x8 (NASDAQ: EGHT ) trying to encroach on its territory and beat it out for prospective business. But shareholders clearly believe that magicJack's plans to boost exposure by making its products available from more locations will help overall traffic, and that could send earnings up even as the stock's valuation remains reasonable.
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