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Ulta, Workday Send Stock Markets Higher Early Friday

By Dan Caplinger - Aug 28, 2020 at 12:11PM

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Solid earnings have been essential in justifying advances.

Bullishness among stock market participants remains extremely high, and Friday's early market action showed no signs of letting up in the drive upward. Investors seem to believe that there's no alternative to stocks, given rock-bottom yields on fixed-income securities and the poor performance of other asset classes like commodities. At around 11:15 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.00%) was up 69 points to 28,561, coming within 1,000 points of its all-time closing high. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.07%) had picked up 10 points to 3,495, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) had risen 70 points to 11,696.

One thing on the side of the bulls is the fact that earnings reports have generally been better than many had feared. Both Ulta Beauty (ULTA 2.24%) and Workday (WDAY -3.06%) came out with their latest results overnight, and both stocks gained ground following what many investors saw as positive signs of a continued recovery.

A beautiful outlook

Shares of Ulta Beauty were higher by 6% Friday morning. The beauty salon and products retailer released its second-quarter results, and although some of the numbers weren't pretty, the report showed Ulta overcoming many of the obstacles posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Several dozen lipsticks in different colors.

Image source: Getty Images.

Sales took a massive hit due to pandemic issues. Revenue was down 26% year over year to $1.2 billion, with comparable-store sales falling 26.7%. Traffic levels were especially poor, with Ulta seeing a 36% drop in the number of transactions with customers. Adjusted net income also plunged, falling by almost three-quarters from year-ago levels.

Yet things are looking up for Ulta. All of its stores had reopened by mid-July, and salon services are now available in 88% of its locations. The retailer also expects to restart its efforts toward expanding its store network, with 30 new locations anticipated before the end of the current fiscal year.

No one was surprised by how hard Ulta got hit, but the important thing is that the retailer sees itself continuing to bounce back in the months ahead. The holiday season will be a key indicator of whether things are getting back to normal for Ulta. Shareholders seem optimistic about its prospects.

Workday works

Shares of Workday did even better, climbing 11%. The HR and finance cloud-application provider saw continued growth in sales in its second-quarter results, even under challenging conditions.

Workday reported a 20% rise in total revenue during the quarter, with subscription-based sales climbing 23% year over year. Adjusted earnings per share nearly doubled from year-ago levels, showing the strength of the company's execution.

Workday also boosted its guidance for the full year, and now expects $3.73 billion to $3.74 billion in subscription revenue. The company also sees its margins improving.

A change in the executive suite was interesting, as Chano Fernandez will join founder Aneel Bhusri as co-CEOs. Under the joint leadership model, Bhusri will focus on product, technology, and corporate functions. Fernandez will cover customer acquisition, service, and support for Workday.

Investors have been impressed with how well that tech companies with recurring revenue have held up during the coronavirus crisis. With signs that the job market might continue to improve for some time, Workday could have nice tailwinds helping to support its business.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Ulta Beauty and Workday. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Workday, Inc. Stock Quote
Workday, Inc.
WDAY
$166.08 (-3.06%) $-5.25
Ulta Beauty, Inc. Stock Quote
Ulta Beauty, Inc.
ULTA
$390.03 (2.24%) $8.55
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$33,309.51 (0.00%) $0.00
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$4,207.27 (-0.07%) $-2.97
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$12,854.80 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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