What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Markets Fool.com

Stocks ended the trading week with minor losses despite a few surprisingly strong quarterly earnings announcements. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) indexes both fell slightly, leaving them unchanged over a week that was packed with earnings reports and a closely watched reading by the Federal Reserve on the U.S. economy's growth outlook.

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Today's stock market:

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

(0.24%)

(45)

S&P 500

(0.14%)

(3)

Source: Yahoo Finance.

Still, a few individual stocks bucked the down trend and made significant moves higher on Friday, includingJohn Deere (NYSE: DE) and Foot Locker (NYSE: FL).

John Deere gets more profitable

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Farm-equipment giant John Deere rose 13% on heavy trading volume after quarterly results trounced profit expectations. The bad news is that the company is still suffering from a brutal cyclical downturn in the agricultural industry.

Sales fell 11% in the latest quarter and are down 9% over the past nine months. "John Deere's performance reflected the continuing impact of the global farm recession as well as difficult conditions in construction equipment markets," CEO Samuel Allen said in a press release.

Image source: Getty Images.

However, the company is finding success at navigating through that tough selling environment. Each of its divisions produced operating profits this quarter, and its agriculture and turf division saw a 21% earnings spike thanks to higher prices, lower production costs, and decreased expenses. Thanks to that pricing and cost discipline, net income only fell 4% despite the double-digit drop in revenue. Allen credited management's success to "our efforts to develop a more durable business model and a wider range of revenue sources."

Deere left its sales forecast in place that calls for a 9% revenue drop. Earnings, meanwhile, got a big upgrade with net income projected to weigh in at $1.35 billion compared to the $1.2 billion management targeted in late May. Higher prices and lower costs are combining to make Deere significantly more profitable, and investors celebrated that change by biding shares higher on Friday.

Foot Locker speeds up the growth pace

Foot Locker's 11% jump pushed the stock into positive territory on the year, following strong second-quarter results. Sales growth accelerated to a 5% pace from 3% in the prior quarter thanks to solid demand across its basketball, running, and classic footwear categories. Executives also managed encouraging wins in the e-commerce and international sales channels.

Gross profit margin ticked higher, indicating that Foot Locker did a good job of selecting, stocking, and pricing inventory this quarter. Detracting from that gain was the fact that operating expenses rose slightly, thanks to continued investments in stores and the online selling infrastructure.

Image source: Getty Images.

Overall, the retailer produced a solid 7% boost in net income. And due to stock buybacks -- management spent $350 million on dividends and stock repurchases over the last six months -- that translated into a 12% spike in per-share earnings. Foot Locker's $0.94 per share of profit beat consensus estimates calling for $0.90 per share.

Trends change quickly in apparel and athletic footwear categories, but CEO Richard Johnson and his team believe they can effectively respond to those shifts while delivering mid-single-digit sales growth and double-digit profit gains for the full year. With this week's results, investors gained confidence in that aggressive forecast.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool is short John Deere. 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.