Another week is in the books, and a combination of bullish retail sales figures and fewer people filing for unemployment benefits may have lit a new fire beneath bulls' feet. For optimists, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs have actually earned their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty prices. Retail giant Macy's
In high spirits
Shareholders of Diageo
Diageo reported a 7% rise in overall sales, highlighted by growth in emerging markets Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Normally, I'd be cheering on expansion into foreign markets -- one attractive factor I'm sure the Motley Fool Income Investor team sees in recommending Diageo -- but the company's domestic and developed-world mainstays have me worried.
North American sales rose by just 3%, and sales in Europe actually fell by 3%. Considering that Boston Beer
Switching to decaf
I don't know what they're putting in the coffee over at Jammin Java (OTCBB: JAMN.OB), but it should be illegal. It's very uncommon for me to include an over-the-counter company in my discussions, but this week, an exception needed to be made.
Jammin Java, a retailer of gourmet coffee, is up a mind-boggling 334% in just the past month, on the heels of a promotional report from the Lautner Letter. As fellow Fool Rick Munarriz points out, Jammin Java hasn't booked a dime of revenue so far, yet has amassed a market value now approaching $400 million! Keep in mind that this company is competing against Green Mountain Coffee
This topic is cooling off
Years ago, I finally gave up on the dream that Hot Topic
In the past decade, Hot Topic has had numerous near-revivals, only to be crushed by a poor mix of products and inventory troubles. Unfortunately for Hot Topic, It caters to an incredibly fickle younger crowd, whose spending habits and ruling trends can change more quickly than Hot Topic can adapt. Rivals Zumiez and Aeropostale have both struggled with changing trends as well, but they've done a far better job controlling inventory. The time for change passed Hot Topic years ago; now it's become an industry laggard.
You shouldn't be surprised to hear that earnings matter. Some companies have none, like Jammin Java. Other have promised the world and failed to deliver, like Hot Topic. Still others are faltering in areas where they are usually strong, like Diageo. In the end, it all comes down to earnings -- and by that metric, these companies simply don't hit the mark.
What's your take on these recent highfliers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding Diageo, Jammin Java, and Hot Topic, as well as your own personalized portfolio of stocks to My Watchlist.
Diageo is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Boston Beer is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Peet's Coffee & Tea and Zumiez are Motley Fool Big Short short-sale choices. Green Mountain is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick, on which Motley Fool Options has recommended buying puts. The Fool owns shares of Boston Beer, Aeropostale, and Diageo. Alpha Newsletter Account, LLC has opened a short position on Green Mountain.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He would like to remind you not to forget about our friends in Japan who could still use a helping hand. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy never needs to be sold short.