A relatively quiet week came to an end with a big rally on Friday, as major market benchmarks finished the day up between 1% and 2%. After initial skepticism yesterday that European action to stimulate economic growth through interest rate decreases would prove successful, investors seemed to embrace the idea that collective efforts across the globe will eventually result in improvements in macroeconomic conditions. Oil prices also moved higher, and lately, energy stocks have had fairly close correlations with the broader market. Among the day's leading stocks were Weatherford International (NYSE: WFT), National Beverage (FIZZ -1.17%), and Ulta Salon (ULTA -0.25%).
Weatherford International climbed 10%, joining most of the rest of the energy sector in responding favorably to climbing oil prices. Crude jumped almost 2% to rise above $38.50 per barrel, but Weatherford in particular benefited from favorable comments from analysts at Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street firm said that the oilfield services company has done a good job of cutting its cost structure, improving its internal finances and putting its balance sheet in a healthier condition. Yet Weatherford hasn't stopped there, and it's looking to drive even greater improvements in free cash flow. Goldman believes that once the crude oil market finally stops falling and stabilizes, the strategic moves that Weatherford has made will be even clearer and help create a competitive advantage for the oil-services company over its peers.
National Beverage jumped 11% after releasing its fiscal third-quarter financial report this morning. Typically, the winter quarter is a slow one for the maker of Shasta carbonated beverages and Lacroix sparkling water, but National Beverage posted strong revenue growth of 13% and produced earnings of $0.24 per share, which were up a nickel from last year's fiscal third quarter. CEO Nick Caporella pointed to unexpectedly strong brand growth and the achievement of performance milestones that have punctuated what has been an extremely strong 2015 for the beverage maker. With innovations like its Shasta SDA soft-drink alternative product and other offerings in the juice and energy-drink category, National Beverage hopes to carry its pop far into 2016 and beyond.
Finally, Ulta Salon soared 17%. The beauty products retailer and salon-services provider said that its results in its fiscal first quarter were extremely strong, standing out in a broader retail industry that has been plagued by rising discounting activity and weaker profits. Revenue at Ulta jumped 21% on a 12.5% jump in comparable sales, and the company believes that it should be able to sustain 8% to 10% growth in comps during the full 2016 fiscal year. By spending aggressively on expansion plans, Ulta believes that it can tap into healthy demand in the niche. With guidance for earnings growth of 18% to 20% for the full year, it's easy to see why shareholders got excited about Ulta's outlook and future prospects.