The U.S. economy was trying to cooperate and end the week on a high note after the Labor Department announced that the U.S. added 227,000 new jobs in January. That was the largest gain in four months and was considerably higher than the expected 197,000 new jobs. While that was a bright spot, hourly wages rose a less than impressive 0.1% to $26 an hour -- but the past 12 months have still seen wages rising faster than since the recovery from the recession.
In other news, here are a handful of companies that made big headlines or big moves last week in the markets.
No more drama
The headlines in regard to Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) fourth quarter were, in my opinion, a complete eye-roller. Amazon's revenue during the fourth quarter increased a hefty 22% to $43.7 billion, compared with last year's $35.7 billion. But neither the headlines nor the market paid any attention to the strong 22% gain, focusing instead on the fact that Amazon missed consensus analysts' estimates of $44.7 billion.
The market also shrugged off the fact that Amazon's operating income jumped 13% to $1.3 billion and that its net income soared 55% up to $749 million. Moreover, earnings per share checked in with a 54% jump from the prior year's fourth quarter up to $1.54 per share.
It's easy to imagine the frustration from long-term investors who watched the market send Amazon shares lower simply because the company didn't meet the expectations of analysts who don't run the business. But this is the world we live in, and the markets we trade in.
At least one analyst had a positive outlook. Robert Drbul of Guggenheim put a price target of $950 on Amazon and had this to say on CNBC's Squawk Box: "We think from the forecast and the future, we still have 20-plus-percent growth in '17 and '18 and even higher growth in the AWS piece of it," referring to Amazon Web Services.
Just about any company in the market would love the have the "problems" Amazon is having at this point, because growing revenue 22% from a base of $35.7 billion is staggering. Despite the "miss," and a slightly lower share price, Amazon is not a company to bet against.
It's a pet's world; we're just living in it
Shares of IDEXX Laboratories (NASDAQ:IDXX), a company that primarily develops, manufactures, and distributes diagnostic products and equipment for pets and livestock, had a great week, with shares soaring roughly 16%. The driving forces behind the surge were stronger-than-anticipated fourth-quarter earnings and 2017 earnings guidance that increased by eight pennies, to between $2.85 and $3.01 per share.
Starting from the top, revenue during the quarter moved 11% higher to $443 million, compared with the prior year, thanks to the company's tests for companion animals, which increased 13%. That showing topped consensus estimates of $435 million. Management also posted 3,167 premium instrument placements, good for 15% growth year over year.
On the bottom line, IDEXX's earnings per share checked in at $0.58 during the fourth quarter, a 21% gain over the prior year and a 33% increase on a constant currency basis. That was also a significant beat, as analysts were expecting earnings per share of only $0.51 during the fourth quarter. Full-year EPS came in at $2.44, a 19% jump over the prior year, and a 25% jump on a constant currency basis.
It was a strong fourth quarter that put the finishing touches on an excellent year, and one look at this next graph should excite investors -- because such a lead in R&D suggests that more strong quarters and top-of-the-line products are on the way.
Another one bites the dust
It's no secret that a majority of clothing retailers have really struggled in recent months and years. Some have had a hard time adapting to changing consumer preferences, while others have been crushed by their inability to compete online. Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE:RL) could be the next victim, as shares fell 13% last week and have shed half their value over the past three years.
The surprise last week stunned analysts: Less than two years after taking the reins at Ralph Lauren, CEO Stefan Larsson announced that he will depart. The unexpected move is reportedly the result of a rift between Larsson and the company's founder, who didn't agree on business strategy going forward.
Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow had this to say, according to Barron's: "While RL certainly isn't a 'one man show,' we expect investors likely have questions around the reality of the turnaround without the leader who developed it. This is especially true considering Larsson was perceived to be one of the top retail leaders in the industry and a key confidence builder for investors given the difficult turnaround RL has ahead of them."
All of that drama aside, Ralph Lauren reported that sales were down 12% during its fiscal third quarter, compared with the prior year. Earnings fell a staggering 37% on a reported basis, though that figure came down to 18% when adjusting for restructuring and other costs.