Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The bulls were out in full force in the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.18%) headed into the three-day weekend on a strong note. Ignoring a soft jobs market and subpar retail sales, stocks have now posted gains in six out of the past seven trading days, and this week was the Dow's strongest of the year. The index tacked on 2.3% this week as the Federal Reserve vowed to stick with the monetary policies of outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Today alone, the Dow added 126 points, or 0.8%, to end at 16,154.
Walt Disney (DIS -0.03%) stock ended as one of the standout blue chip performers Friday, gaining 1.7%. The mammoth Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon, will have as-yet-unseen consequences for Disney, which owns the majority of sports leader ESPN. That said, Disney is very forward-looking nowadays, and has itself fueled the "cord-cutting" phenomenon by developing a close business relationship with streaming video leader Netflix. Disney's also embracing small business with its freshly announced start-up accelerator initiative, and I think the company's innovative mind-set will serve shareholders well in the years to come.
Shares of the for-profit college operator Education Management (NASDAQ: EDMC) also rallied today, though not because of the company's forward thinking. Education Management stock jumped 3.8% today, capping off a strong week that saw shares soar more than 12%. This recent bullishness, however, is misleading: The stock plummeted last week after quarterly profits fell by 96% and earnings forecasts missed estimates. I see this stock as a wildly volatile, speculative play that long-term investors should avoid, considering the company's poor fundamentals.
Speaking of poor fundamentals and speculative, risky plays, shares of Sears Holdings (SHLDQ) fell 4.6% Friday, reversing course after the stock rallied more than 20% in just three days. Here, again, we find a stock that posted an ephemeral, misleading rally for reasons unrelated to the business' fundamentals. Sears was one of yesterday's standout performers, as Wall Street cheered news that investment firm Force Capital Management has snapped up a 5.6% stake in the troubled retailer. Unfortunately, and as Credit Suisse noted today in reiterating its underperform rating, new owners don't change the company's immediate fiscal woes.