Johnson & Johnson's Headache-Fixing Earnings, Mattel's Un-Fun Earnings, and Why Stocks Popped All Week Despite China's GDP

Time to take a break from stuffing your face with Cadbury Creme Eggs. Although the stock market was closed for Good Friday, the S&P 500 rose all four days during the holiday-shortened week, which was chock-full of earnings reports.

1. Stock market winner ...
Sure, its business may not be as sexy as Google's, but Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) is our stock winner of the week after an earnings report that got rid of investors' headaches. The pharmaceutical giant is known for brand names like Tylenol, but recently, the key has been prescription drugs.

So how were the numbers? Johnson & Johnson enjoyed a 3.5% rise in sales over the first three months of 2014 compared with the first quarter of 2013, driving $18.1 billion in revenue so far this year. What impressed Wall Street, though, was the profits, which rose nearly 8% compared with the same period last year, mostly thanks to the high margins on prescriptions.

The earnings report provided a nice sigh of relief for Johnson & Johnson investors, who had been sweating the company's lowered earnings forecasts for 2014, as many of its prescription drug patents are set to expire this year. But a migraine-solving pop in prescription sales by over 10% has execs raising their 2014 expectations. HIV drug Prezista and psoriasis drug Stolara, to name a couple, are helping ease JNJ's pain.

2. ... And stock market loser
There's no playing around with the largest U.S. toymaker right now. Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT  ) (NASDAQ: MAT  ) (NASDAQ: MAT  ) announced earnings that would make kids and their parents cringe. Compared with the same period last year, revenue fell 5% to $946.2 million, while analysts expected $947.6 million. Plus, revenue fell by 2% in North America and 7% worldwide.

Keep in mind that the company has plenty of core products, including Disney Princess Dolls, and, of course, the legendary Hot Wheels that we'd all like to still be playing with. But this time around, Barbie seems to be the problem -- after a weak holiday season, Mattel had to implement markdowns on the curvaceous doll to get rid of all its extra inventory. Like Santa, Christmas sales account for up to 40% of the industry's revenue.

The other takeaway is that electronic toys keep eating away on physical toy sales. As parents choose e-toys over ones that you can throw around, Mattel's key brands, like Fisher-Price, saw sales drop 6%. That's no fun for a toymaker.

3. China's economy slowed a tad
China's economy is kind of going into "crouching tiger, hidden dragon" mode. The country's economic growth, as measured by GDP, fell to 7.4% in the first quarter of 2014, in between the 7.5% growth the Chinese government targeted and the 7.3% economists expected. That's still sizable (by comparison, the U.S. economy's been growing between 1% and 3% the past few years), but it's a sign that the world's second-largest economy is still dealing with an internal housing bubble and increased trade competition.

4. The Fed's "Beige Book" blamed winter
The Federal Reserve released its "Beige Book," the central bank's eight-times-per-year summary of the state of the economy. And according to the Fed, the economy continued to improve in each of its 12 regional districts, powered by a rebound in consumer spending beginning in March. The Fed also played the blame game, referencing the word "weather" 103 times as it officially acknowledged that the harsh winter slowed manufacturing, the housing market, and retail sales.

MarketSnacks next week:
  • Monday: First-quarter earnings reports: Netflix, Crocs, Hasbro
  • Tuesday: Existing-home sales; earnings reports: Harley-Davidson, McDonald's, Yum! Brands
  • Wednesday: New-home sales; earnings reports: Apple, Dr Pepper Snapple, Zynga
  • Thursday: Durable-goods orders; earnings reports: Starbucks, Amazon.com, JetBlue
  • Friday: Reuters/University of Michigan consumer-sentiment poll; earnings reports: Burger King Worldwide, Ford
 
As originally published on MarketSnacks.com
 

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