Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Stifel Financial (NYSE: SF) jumped 10% today after the company released earnings that topped expectations.

So what: Fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.97 easily passed analyst estimates of $0.71. Investment banking revenue and the company's brokerage unit performed better than expected.

Now what: The acquisition of Thomas Weisel Partners helped push revenue 26% higher, and improving conditions in financial markets have provided a boost. Retail and private clients are slowly starting to return, and I see more good results ahead for Stifel as they gain more confidence. I am bullish on today's move as I think the momentum the company had during the quarter will continue as the economy recovers.

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