What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Markets Fool.com

Stocks rose on Friday, tacking on gains as investors headed into a three-day weekend. Despite fresh data pointing to slower economic growth, the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) indexes each added about 0.4%

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Today's stock market:

Index

Percentage change

Point change

Dow

0.39%

72

S&P 500

0.42%

9

Source: Yahoo Finance.

Job growth slowed down last month, according to the latest official economic data. Employers added 151,000 jobs in August, below expectations and down significantly from the 275,000 jobs added in July. Still, the longer-term trend is stable. After accounting for revisions, the job market has now grown by an average of 232,000 per month over the past three months. That number will likely figure prominently in the Federal Reserve's debate over whether or not to raise interest rates after its next meeting, which concludes on September 21.

Meanwhile, earnings news sent a few stocks sharply lower even as broader indexes rose. These include Verifone (NYSE: PAY) and Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU), which both posted double-digit losses on Friday.

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Verifone's revenue stumbles

Verifone was one of the market's biggest losers, slumping 16% following disappointing quarterly results. The payments solutions specialist's sales turned surprisingly negative, with revenue slipping 3% to $493 million. In contrast, CEO Paul Galant and his executive team had projected $515 million of sales. "Q3 was a challenging quarter for Verifone on revenues," Galant said in a press release on Friday. The good news is that profitability held up, and cost cuts allowed the company to hit its earnings target. Verifone managed a 7% boost in EPS.

Image source: Getty Images.

However, there appear to be persistent challenges surrounding the rollout of the EMV payment platform that handles chip-enabled credit cards. These will continue into the current quarter, Verifone warned, and will be a drag on growth. As a result, full-year revenue will stop at $2 billion, rather than the $2.1 billion they forecast in late May. Projected earnings got a bigger downgrade and will now be roughly $1.65 per share, compared to the prior $1.85 outlook.

Executives are confident that the issues that tripped up sales growth come from a mix of "difficult but temporary local market" issues and a slower than expected introduction of the EMV system. Investors who agree with that assessment might be tempted to take a closer look at this stock, which is down almost 50% in the last twelve months.

Lululemon'sprofitabilitygrowth

Lululemon's stock took a step back from all-time highs, dropping 11% after announcing its quarterly earnings results. The retailer had plenty of good news for investors in this report. Comparable store sales growth was 3% -- on par with the prior quarter's result and right within management's guidance. While it could have been higher, that's an impressive pace given the weak selling environment for most apparel retailers these days.

Image source: Lululemon.

The company didn't have to resort to price cuts to keep customer traffic humming along, either. Gross profit margin improved by two percentage points to reach 49% of sales. "The second quarter demonstrated strong results as we delivered sales and EPS at the high-end of our guidance and saw an important inflection in our gross margin," CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a press release.

Lululemon raised its sales and profit outlook for the rest of the year, but perhaps not by as much as investors had hoped, given the run-up in the stock lately. Shareholders may have been holding out for stronger growth, but with profitably finally climbing after four years of declines, and with inventories down from the prior year, the company is in good shape headed into the key holiday shopping season.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Lululemon Athletica. 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.