If you're feeling down this week, take heart! Let's review some of the more uplifting headlines of the past seven days. There's more to the news than layoffs, missed earnings, and guidance knockdowns.
1. Fall into the Gap
I've been ripping on Gap
Don't get me wrong. The specialty apparel retailer is still a bigger mess than the clearance rack at a Banana Republic. The company posted a sharp 23% slide in comps for the month of January this week, including Old Navy's 34% whopping decline at the store level. How does a chain that was already a ghost town collect even more tumbleweeds?
However, buried at the end of its grim January sales data, Gap actually raised its bottom-line outlook for the fiscal year that concluded last week. The company now predicts a profit of $1.32 to $1.33 a share, ahead of its earlier guidance of $1.27 to $1.30 a share. The company attributes the improved performance to its ability to shave expenses. That's no surprise, since shareholders were betrayed big time by price-slashing sales. Still, the retailer's ability to enhance its projected earnings power despite cascading sales figures is commendable.
2. Goldman gives back sacks of taxpayer cash
Companies are starting to turn their tin cups upside down. Goldman Sachs
With the media crying foul over ancient corporate jet orders and Vegas junkets – and President Obama asking bailout recipients to cap executive salaries -- suddenly it doesn't feel so hot to be mooching off Joe Taxpayer.
Kudos to Sachs for doing the right thing. I pity any of its peers that fail to realize the hoops, strings, and scrutiny awaiting those who tap the TARP as if it's found money.
3. Guess the sector
Let's play a little game that I like to call Guess the Sector. A company posted healthy results this week. Revenue clocked in 17% higher. Improving margins led to a robust 35% spurt on the bottom line.
If you said "financial services," you would be right; those were the numbers posted by Visa
4. Sirius gains, for a change
Shares of Sirius XM Radio
This could be great -- or horrible. If true, EchoStar may simply be snapping up liabilities that it feels Sirius XM won't be able to repay, granting the satellite television specialist some important leverage in bankruptcy proceedings. In that scenario, shareholders would likely be wiped out.
The upbeat scenario is that EchoStar is angling for a buyout. Since Sirius is a consumer-facing company -- and certainly many of its shareholders also subscribe to Sirius or XM -- EchoStar would probably want to take control of the company without having to resort to bankruptcy.
Feast or famine? Stay tuned either way. With nearly 220 million shares sold short, expect a lot of volatility as the drama plays itself out.
5. Game on, Amazon
The country's leading online retailer is taking another step in digital delivery. Amazon.com
Casual games are a far cry from the epic titles that sell millions of units, but they open another door to the digital delivery content that Amazon formerly packed and shipped.
Books, CDs, DVDs, and computer games were some of the earliest physical goods Amazon sold. Now Amazon offers Web-delivered marketplaces for all four.
Be afraid, bricks-and-mortar chains. Be very afraid.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.