It was a good week to be a bull. U.S. markets stayed positive through most of the week as investors cheered progress on addressing the debt crisis in Europe and strong economic reports in the United States. Capping the week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that 243,000 jobs were added in January, far more than economists were expecting. Rising payrolls helped knock the unemployment rate down to 8.3%.

By the time the dust had settled, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) tacked on 1.6%, while the broader Russell 3000 had an even better 2.4% gain. Investors were clearly excited about the recovery this week and, as a result, were flocking to sectors most associated with economic growth.

Top 3 Performing Sectors

Russell 3000 Sector

Weekly Price Change

Month-to-Date Price Change

Financials 4.1% 4.6%
Information Technology 3.4% 3.2%
Industrials 2.7% 3.5%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Jan. 27-Feb. 3. Monthly price change is Jan. 31-Feb. 3.

For the top performers in the Russell 3000 it was all about earnings. Corinthian Colleges (Nasdaq: COCO) led a broad rally in for-profit education companies when it reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.04, easily topping analysts $0.01 expectation. Though the year-over-year declines in revenue, students, and earnings reflect the challenges that the industry has faced broadly, investors clearly saw the company's December-quarter report as a step in the right direction.

St. Louis-based carbon and technical fiber manufacturer Zoltek (Nasdaq: ZOLT), meanwhile, reported results that absolutely walloped Wall Street's expectations. For its first fiscal quarter, Zoltek reported revenue of $47 million, which was up 43% from the same quarter of the prior year. Earnings per share clocked in at $0.28, which reversed a $0.05-per-share loss from the year before. That EPS tally also blew away the per-share profit of $0.04 that analysts were looking for.

Top 3 Performing Russell 3000 Companies

Company

Weekly Price Change

Corinthian Colleges 55.6%
GTX 55.6%
Zoltek 48.6%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Jan. 27-Feb. 3. Includes only companies with a market cap of $250 million or higher.

Also among the week's top performers were Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR) and Amylin Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AMLN). Continuing the theme of blowout earnings, Green Mountain socked naysayers in the kisser as it announced sales that more than doubled from the prior year and earnings per share that skyrocketed from $0.18 to $0.60. That per-share profit tally also happened to clobber Wall Street's puny $0.36 estimate. With that news providing the tailwind, Green Mountain's stock tacked on 26% for the week.

Amylin joins the party without an earnings announcement but with some very bullish news of its own. Investors were celebrating this week as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved the company's once-a-week diabetes treatment. As my fellow Fool Brian Orelli explained, the stock didn't go absolutely bananas because most investors already expected the drug to be approved. Nevertheless, the 41% that the stock flew up during the week should be enough to have Amylin investors smiling this weekend.

That's it for this week's top-performers recap. If you're looking for some ideas for strong outperformers for the rest of year, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report titled "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." In it, my fellow Fools reveal a top pick that's poised for explosive growth ahead. Get instant access -- it's free.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter, @KoppTheFool, or on Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.