The Good Outweighs the Bad

 | Feb 12, 2014 | 3:18 PM EST
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More good than bad!

That's today's scorecard and the goods are shocking, namely Owens Corning (OC) and Valspar (VAL), an insulation and roofing company and a coatings company. In other words, that's residential home improvement and construction.

The huge numbers OC put up are in contrast with many years that it seemed unable to put it together all at once. What a change. This time it is talking about roofing having another strong year, before it even knows whether there are storms for the rest of 2014, and insulation is going to benefit from "growth in U.S. residential construction, improved pricing and operating leverage."

Valspar gets right into it on its conference call, saying that business at Lowe's (LOW) and Ace have been terrific of late -- it makes the private label for both -- and, again, it cites the strength in U.S. residential housing.

These come right on the heels of Masco (MAS) reporting a number that was OK, but the market determined was pretty darned good.

These two are spurring another move back into the housing-component stocks, which have been lagging ever since housing cooled with the increase in mortgage rates.

What else looked good? How about SPX (SPW), which has its hands in many pies, and Oreos, for that matter, because its machines help fill Oreos as well as provide machines that process many of the things we take for granted like coffee and butter. The diversified manufacturer also saw robust growth in flow controls and power controls, analogous to those of Emerson (EMR) and Eaton (ETN), which is sending those running.

Then there's the action in Packaging Corporation of America (PKG), a huge maker of container board and paper that bought Boise a year ago and is now doing much better than expected in part because of the acquisition. 

Finally there's TripAdvisor (TRIP). While the headline numbers didn't look blowout, this company had a 50% year-over-year increase in traffic. That's remarkable, as it solidifies the position in the Internet of all things travel.

Now, if you sum up all of these beats you get a picture of a robust consumer, a better housing market, good shipping -- Packaging Corp. -- and a pickup in non-residential construction and travel.

And what reported badly today? Deere (DE). Once again, Deere fooled people in the headlines, but when you did the work, agriculture has slowed. You know what? The market can handle that, no problem, especially when it said that construction equipment's doing well, allowing people to think positively about Cummins (CMI) and Caterpillar (CAT), two stocks that have been on a mission to go higher after each reported its quarters.

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