Stocks cooled off midweek last week, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) finished Friday with momentum and ended the week 1.3% and 0.8% higher, respectively.
One of the biggest stories in the market came Friday, when odds that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates in December, for the first time in nearly a decade, became more likely. The driving force was a report that U.S. nonfarm payrolls climbed by 271,000 in October, much more than was expected. That sent the unemployment rate from 5.1% down to 5%. Perhaps even more interesting was that average hourly earnings climbed 2.5% year over year, which was the best number since July of 2009.
"We've been waiting a while to see wages start to pick up," Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, told Barron's. "This is the last domino to fall as far as the labor market is concerned. It could provide a real boost to the economy if we get more wages in the hands of households."
Here are some of the highlights from around the market.
Auto industry continues to surge
It's no secret that 2015 has been a strong year for sales of new vehicles in the U.S. market.
While Detroit automakers have been posting strong profits driven higher by red hot sales of highly profitable SUVs and full-size trucks, there is another company that posted great results because of rising sales: TrueCar (NASDAQ:TRUE).
TrueCar surged 37% higher for the week after results from its third quarter hit the mark with investors who had grown doubtful of the company's business model after a disastrous second-quarter. TrueCar generated a record level of quarterly revenue at $72.4 million, which was a 28% increase over last year's third quarter and far ahead of analyst estimates for $66.2 million. More importantly, TrueCar's adjusted EBITDA rebounded to $2.7 million after last quarter's disastrous plunge to $0.5 million.
Another big takeaway from TrueCar's third quarter was that it reassured investors that its relationship with its network of dealerships was strong as a whole. Doubts about that aspect of TrueCar's business plagued investors this summer, when AutoNation, the largest new-car retailer in the U.S., ended its partnership with TrueCar.
For the third quarter, management said TrueCar's dealership network has already started to recover from the loss of AutoNation's roughly 300 stores. Furthermore, the loss of AutoNation didn't sting as much as feared as transaction revenue was picked up at other TrueCar dealerships -- emphasized by the revenue increase per franchise dealer:
Investors should keep in mind that the largest new-car retailer in the U.S., AutoNation has capital available to replace sales leads generated by TrueCar through developing its own website for online consumers. Very few dealership groups have that ability, and that alone should reassure investors that AutoNation wasn't the first of many dominoes to fall and end their partnership with TrueCar.
Tough week for cybersecurity
Switching gears, FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE) recovered a little Friday after plunging roughly 20% Thursday, when it reported its third-quarter results on Nov. 4. FireEye seems like a no-brainer long-term investment because its business revolves around two things the world has plenty of: computers and hackers.
The cybersecurity leader's second-quarter revenue jumped 45%, compared with last year, to $165.6 million which was within the company's guidance range. The kicker, though, was that the company's billings, which is an indicator of future revenue, fell short of management's guidance. FireEye's billings increased 28% to $210.6 million, a fair amount below management's prior forecast of between $225 million and $230 million.
It wasn't a complete disaster and the company's renewal rates remained above 90% with non-GAAP gross margin increasing two percentage points to 73%, excluding stock-based compensation and items. Further, FireEye's non-GAAP net loss checked in at $0.37 per share, which was an improvement over last year's third-quarter loss of $0.51 per share and better than management's guidance of losses of $0.44 and $0.48 per share.
Oil companies surprise
Lastly, shares of Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN), an Oklahoma City-based natural gas and oil producer, moved 11% higher this week after reporting its third-quarter results. Devon's results, among a wave of other gas exploration and production companies that reported this week, encouraged investors that oil companies were learning to do more with less -- Devon specifically was able to post strong cost reductions with a record amount of oil production.
Overall, Devon reported core earnings of $0.76 per share, or $316 million. That was a pleasant surprise for investors, despite continued oil price weakness, as it was only a slight drop from last year's third-quarter result of $0.78 per share, or $320 million. Its third quarter marked the fifth consecutive quarter the company exceeded oil production guidance.
Part of the reason Devon's stock price moved higher last week is that the company expects its strong performance to continue regardless of oil prices. "Based on these strong results, we are raising our full-year oil production outlook for the second time this year," Devon Energy CEO, Dave Hager said. "And we are delivering this incremental production growth with significantly lower costs. We are now on pace to save around $1 billion of capital and operating costs in 2015 versus original expectations."
Daniel Miller owns shares of Devon Energy, FireEye, and TrueCar. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends FireEye. The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy. The Motley Fool recommends TrueCar. 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 has a disclosure policy.
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