The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) slid lower through the middle of the week but rebounded Friday to achieve the tiniest of gains this week. Many investors focused on November's job report which recorded the U.S. economy added 211,000 new jobs, higher than the forecast of 200,000. While the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5%, the labor-force participation rate rose slightly to 62.5%. In addition to the strong jobs figures, October and September jobs figures were revised upward a combined 35,000. All in all, November's job report seems strong enough to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this month.
Here are three companies that made moves this week thanks to soaring or cratering sales.
Autos remain red-hot
The U.S. automotive industry remains on track to exceed expectations for 2015 as the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, or SAAR, for November checked in at 18.16 million. If you're counting that's the third consecutive month the U.S. auto industry's SAAR topped 18 million -- a very strong figure. Sales of light vehicles in the U.S. reached nearly 1.32 million units last month, putting the industry roughly 1.57 million units short of the annual record set in 2000.
Perhaps the biggest story found amid the auto sales reporting was that Volkswagen Group's (OTC:VWAGY) diesel emissions scandal finally dented its sales in the U.S. market. Volkswagen brand vehicles recorded a steep 25% drop in its vehicle sales last month, compared to last year. Volkswagen's U.S. sales last month was its second-worst monthly performance since February 2011 and it was the automaker's largest monthly decline in the U.S. since September 2008.
Even worse, industry estimates project that Volkswagen incentives rose a whopping 27% in November to $3,850 per unit, compared to last year. Not only was that far higher than the industry's average 6% rise in incentives, but it suggests even large discounts and deals can't salvage the troubled automaker's sales -- November was rough for VW, to say the least. Despite the drastic decline in U.S. sales Volkswagen's stock seemingly shrugged off the news, likely because the stock price has already taken a beating over the last two months, down roughly 20% since the scandal broke.
Taking a look at sales outside of the automotive industry, shares of Wayfair (NYSE:W) moved 12% higher this week after the company announced its Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday sales started the holiday season off on the right foot. Wayfair reported a 109% increase in overall gross sales and an even larger 130% increase in Direct Retail gross sales for the five-day peak shopping period of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, compared to last year's figures.
"The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is typically a busy, high volume period for Wayfair," said Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, in a press release. "We are continuing to see an industry-wide shift to e-commerce that is especially evident during the peak retail season. Wayfair is benefiting from that shift and from our ongoing success in building a trusted, online destination for everything home."
Investors should definitely celebrate Wayfair's strong start to the holiday season, although they should keep in mind that these sales likely aren't high-margin as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers are targeting steep discounts and lucrative deals.
Shares of Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (NASDAQ:ULTA) jumped nearly 13% on Friday alone after the company reported its third-quarter results that beat analyst estimates for revenue as well as earnings. Ulta's net sales increased a solid 22.1% to $910.7 million which was roughly $31 million higher than analysts' estimates.
Comparable sales – which are sales from stores open at least 14 months – increased 12.8% during the third-quarter. Breaking that 12.8% gain down further, it was driven by a 10.6% growth in transactions and 2.2% growth in average ticket.
The company opened 45 new stores in the third-quarter and its e-commerce sales moved a sizable 56.3% higher to $46.2 million. Ulta also raised its guidance for the full year and now predicts comparable-sales growth of between 10% to 11%, up from a previous range of between 8% to 10%. Ulta expects its e-commerce sales to grow by about 40% and its earnings per share to increase in the low 20s percentage range.
While investors were worried after some retailers had posted less than stellar quarters, there was a lot to like about Ulta's third-quarter.