Last Week's Top Stock Gainers

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Last week was a holiday-shortened week, but didn't lack for fireworks. Greece and the leaders of the eurozone finally reached an agreement that will funnel new bailout funds to the heavily indebted nation and allow it to avoid a messy default -- at least for now. But if that should have given the market a nice shot in the arm, optimism was tempered as the continued drumbeat of weak economic performance throughout the rest of the eurozone continued. The major U.S. indexes finished in the black for the week, but the gains were very moderate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) spent the week flirting with the psychologically important 13,000 level, but couldn't manage to hold it. By week's end, that index had tacked on 0.3%, while the broader Russell 3000 reported a similar 0.3% increase.

Top 3 Performing Sectors

Russell 3000 Sector
Weekly Price Change
Month-to-Date Price Change
Energy1.9%8.1%
Information technology0.8%7.0%
Telecom services0.8%4.4%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Feb. 17 to Feb. 24. Monthly price change is Jan. 31 to Feb. 24.

Biopharma company VIVUS (NAS: VVUS) managed to score the biggest gain on the Russell index as its stock soared nearly 85% for the week. The stock was sent sky-high after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel reviewing the company's weight-loss drug, Qnexa, gave it a big thumbs-up by voting 20-2 in favor of approval. As my fellow Fool Brian Orelli pointed out, a vote in favor doesn't guarantee approval, as drug companies have faced a particularly tough road to ushering obesity treatments through the FDA gauntlet. However, a vote that strongly in favor may be enough to finally get Qnexa across the goal line.

Corcept Therapeutics (NAS: CORT) , meanwhile, grabbed its big pop after the FDA gave it the final go-ahead for its treatment for Cushing's Syndrome. While some of the signals that the FDA gave off prior to the decision may have made the approval a bit of a surprise, it was certainly a welcome surprise for investors, who saw their shares appreciate nearly 44% over the past week. The company said that it plans to make the drug available by May 1 and believes that because there's a relatively small number of doctors who treat the malady, this can keep sales and marketing costs relatively low.

Top 3 Performing Russell 3000 Companies

Company
Weekly Price Change
VIVUS84.6%
Corcept43.5%
Sourcefire27.6%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Feb. 17 to Feb. 24. Only includes companies with a market cap of $250 million or higher.

Believe it or not, you didn't need to have a novel drug approved -- or near approval -- by the FDA to register big gains this week. Sears Holdings (NAS: SHLD) managed to soar 25% during the week as investors cheered the embattled retailer's turnaround plans. It was actually a very ugly fourth quarter for the owner of Sears and Kmart, as the bottom line was deep in the red on a GAAP basis and missed analysts' expectations on an adjusted basis. However, the company's plans to turn some of its assets -- notably its Hometown and Outlet stores -- into cash bolstered investors' view that there really is some value still left there after all.

Meanwhile, 3-D printing expert 3D Systems (NYS: DDD) grabbed its gains the old-fashioned way -- by bowling over investors with positive quarterly numbers. Revenue of $70 million in the final quarter of the year easily outpaced the $64 million that analysts were looking for, while earnings per share of $0.16 matched the Street's expectation. But as my fellow Fool Alex Planes suggests, there may be plenty more excitement ahead for 3D Systems' investors as the company continues to dominate its emerging industry.

That's it for this week's top performers recap. If you're looking for some ideas for strong outperformers for the rest of year, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report titled "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." In it, my fellow Fools reveal a top pick that's poised for explosive growth ahead. Get instant access by clicking here -- it's free.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferdoes not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter@KoppTheFoolorFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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