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Here's What the Stock Market Rotation Really Looks Like

By Dan Caplinger - Apr 23, 2021 at 1:27PM

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These two earnings reports and investors' reactions to them show what's ahead for the market.

The stock market rebounded strongly on Friday morning, bouncing back from a late-day hit on Thursday. Investors remain somewhat concerned about the prospect of higher income taxes for high-income taxpayers, but they appeared to discount the immediate impact on the economic recovery. As of noon EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.42%) was up 176 points to 33,991. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.16%) moved higher by 42 points to 4,177, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) climbed 194 points to 14,012.

As the economy recovers, investors are starting to see disparate impacts in the way that certain businesses are performing and how their financial results are affecting stock prices. Shares of Skechers (SKX 3.34%) moved sharply higher on hopes for greater discretionary spending among consumers, but Kimberly Clark (KMB -0.49%) saw its stock lose ground as investors shift away from more defensive plays in the consumer staples arena.

Skechers is in style

Shares of Skechers moved higher by 16%. The footwear and apparel retailer had impressive results in its first quarter and sees better times ahead.

Skechers' first-quarter numbers were strong. Sales jumped 15% to hit a new quarterly record for the company. As we've seen across the sector, direct-to-consumer sales were a critical element of the company's success, rising 18% during the period. Net income doubled year over year, reflecting a huge boost in efficiency from cost-cutting measures that led to a massive rise in margins.

Some of those cost savings came from reduced retail labor costs, which are likely to go back up once the COVID-19 pandemic is completely under control. However, CEO Robert Greenberg is confident that Skechers is connecting with consumers with its increased marketing efforts. The company has high hopes for 2021, projecting $5.8 billion to $5.9 billion in revenue, and earnings of between $1.80 and $2 per share for the full year.

People are eager to shop and start returning to their normal lives, and Skechers will benefit from those consumers who fit with its specific tastes. Even with the stock at all-time highs, Skechers could still see further gains if the recovery goes well.

A roll of toilet paper.

Image source: Getty Images.

Kimberly Clark sees one-time pandemic gains disappear

Meanwhile, shares of Kimberly Clark were down 6% Friday at midday. The consumer products giant saw a pullback from its extremely strong year-ago performance, and investors weren't happy with its results or its outlook for the immediate future.

Revenue at Kimberly Clark for the first quarter fell 5%, with organic sales dropping 8% year over year. Earnings were also down about 15% on an adjusted per-share basis. Sales volumes were down 10% from year-ago levels.

Kimberly Clark attributed the drops to a couple of factors. First, the comparison with the first quarter of 2020 was difficult, because a year ago, consumers were in a mad rush to buy toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and similar products at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the Texas-based company faced supply chain disruptions due to extreme winter weather at key manufacturing facilities. Reduced availability of raw materials also weighed on business performance.

Kimberly Clark cut its outlook for the full year, now projecting sales to come in flat to up 1% on an organic basis. It reduced its adjusted earnings projections by $0.40 to $0.45 per share to a new range of $7.30 to $7.55 per share.

The moves in these two stocks are a reminder that even as conditions improve, only some companies will be winners. Others could actually fare worse in a return to a normal business environment.

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Stocks Mentioned

Skechers U.S.A., Inc. Stock Quote
Skechers U.S.A., Inc.
SKX
$36.47 (3.34%) $1.18
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$30,967.82 (-0.42%) $-129.44
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,831.39 (0.16%) $6.06
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,127.85 (0.00%) $0.00
Kimberly-Clark Corporation Stock Quote
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
KMB
$136.09 (-0.49%) $0.67

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

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