The Stock Market's Biggest Winners This Week

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The past week finished on a somewhat bad note as the Bureau of Economic Analysis' "advanced" reading of U.S. GDP growth came in at 2.2%, markedly below economists' forecasts. However, even that wasn't enough to derail a week of strong earnings reports, which provided a nice tailwind for the markets that held through even that late-week disappointment. Among the big earnings headlines were sizeable beats from tech/consumer powerhouses Apple and Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) .

By the time the dust had settled on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) had tacked on 1.5%, while the broader Russell 3000 added 1.9%. While the broad markets ticked upward, some stocks were seriously blasting off.

The week's big winners
Earnings reports were driving most of the big moves in the market over the past week, but for many companies, the moves were a lot more about projections of what's ahead as opposed to a rehashing of the money that the company earned last quarter. That was exactly the case for Cirrus Logic (NAS: CRUS) , which had a ho-hum quarter in that results were pretty much in line with what Wall Street analysts were looking for. However, strong earnings from Apple -- a major Cirrus Logic customer -- gave the stock a nice boost, as did the company's hint that it will continue to supply the new generation of iPhones.


For supercomputer specialist Cray (NAS: CRAY) , part of the week's gains were thanks to a more "traditional" one-two combo of beating earnings expectations and raising guidance. Earnings per share for the first quarter were $0.13, up from $0.04 the year before and well ahead of the $0.03 that Wall Street was expecting. Meanwhile, the company boosted its expected full-year revenue outlook to a range of $430 million to $450 million. That was Cray's second outlook boost since November.

But that wasn't all for Cray during the week. The company also got a shot in the arm after Intel agreed to pay $140 million for networking technology from the company. The deal will significantly strengthen Cray's balance sheet and helped make it a week that the company's shareholders won't quickly forget.

Top 3 Performing Russell 3000 Companies

Company

Weekly Price Change

Cray67.1%
Ardea Biosciences52.8%
Cirrus Logic32.3%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is April 20-April 27. Includes only companies with a market cap of $250 million or higher.

Joining in on the big gains during the week were Incyte (NAS: INCY) and Amazon.com.

For Incyte, the future is still where the payoff is for investors, as the bottom line remains in the red. For the first quarter, though, the per-share loss of $0.36 was less than the $0.46 loss Wall Street expected. More importantly, however, the company's first commercial product, Jakafi, appears to be progressing well after being approved in November. Incyte shipped $25.1 million of Jakafi to specialty pharmacies during the quarter, but because of the way it's accounting for sales, it recorded $19.3 million in product revenue. The company also increased its revenue guidance for 2012 thanks to the previously announced $40 million milestone payment from Novartis.

For Amazon, meanwhile, solid growth sent shares soaring. Investments that the company has been making to help drive growth hurt the bottom-line comparison to last year. However, investors cheered the 34% jump in sales and the fact that the $0.28 in per-share earnings clobbered the $0.07 that Wall Street was expecting.

By week's end, Incyte had tacked on 18%, while Amazon jumped more than 19%.

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 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 -- it's free.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Cirrus Logic, Apple, and Intel.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Intel, Novartis, and Amazon.com and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.  Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferowns shares of Intel but has no financial interest in any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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