This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

These five companies got it right.

Jun 6, 2014 at 5:33PM

If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.

1. Truth or Conn's sequences
It has been a rough year for investors of consumer electronics retailers, but Conn's (NASDAQ:CONN) came through with an encouraging performance in its latest fiscal quarter. Sales rose by a better-than-expected 34% to $335.4 million, and adjusted earnings rose 31% to $0.80 per share. Wall Street was setting for net income of $0.74 a share on $328.5 million in revenue.

The secret to the blowout quarter was a 15.6% spike in comps fueled largely by a 65% surge in furniture and mattress sales. Most consumers think about smartphones, PCs, and TVs when they think about consumer electronics, but furniture, mattresses, and home appliances now account for 57% of Conn's sales.

2. Apple jacked
This week was Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There was chatter going into the weeklong powwow for developers that Apple would make a big splash in smart-home, financial-payment, and wearable platforms, but what the market ultimately got was updates for its two flagship operating systems.

This doesn't mean that the new software tweaks aren't major. OS X Yosemite is a huge makeover, and iOS 8 is being hailed by Apple as the "biggest iOS release ever." Apple is setting itself up well for when the new iPhones and Macs hit the market later this year.

3. Making dough the right way
Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA) is giving activists what they want. The once-booming chain of bakery cafes is updating its food policy, vowing to eliminate artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from its ingredients within the next two years.

This is the kind of move that will naturally score points with fans of organic foodstuffs -- and it certainly won't scare away the patrons who don't care.

Panera could use the image boost. The fast-casual concept isn't growing the way it used to. Analysts see sales and earnings climbing just 7% and 3%, respectively, this year. We know that "food with integrity" sells, and now Panera is taking a smart step in that direction.

4. Amazon's new toy is coming at you (NASDAQ:AMZN) isn't really much for the element of surprise. It has issued a media invite for a June 18 product unveiling on its home turf in Seattle. It has also put out a teaser that leaves little doubt as to what we will be getting when it peels back the curtain.

Given all of the chatter last month about Amazon entering the smartphone market with a mobile device that uses several different cameras to project a 3-D image that adjusts based on where the viewer is positioned -- and the ad where folks are basically swiveling their heads around as they brag about it seamlessly following them around -- there's little doubt that this is what we will be getting. The only real mystery is if that technology will go into the new smartphone, or also be incorporated into the next line of Kindle Fire tablets. 

5. Five alive
Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE) bucked the trend of discounters reporting uninspiring financial results. The retailer that sells everything for $5 or less -- true to its name -- posted another blowout quarter.

Net sales soared 32%, to $126 million, fueled by brisk expansion and an encouraging 6.2% uptick in comps. Operating income and adjusted earnings grew even faster. The 323-store chain wound up beating Wall Street's top- and bottom-line targets. The next time a deep discounter blames external factors for its funk, show it Five Below growing at a time when consumers are presumably trading up at the retail level.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, Five Below, and Panera Bread. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, and Panera Bread. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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