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Encouraging Signs From Smallville

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While Facebook (FB - Get Report) continues to grab the headlines as its shares continue "adjust" to reality, there are some encouraging signs from some smaller names this earnings season.

As skeptical as I am about the current state of the economy, I continue to see some rays of light. My economic training was in the Austrian School of economics (free-market, microeconomics), so I am by nature a skeptic, especially in an environment where government spending is out of control. But there were several earnings reports yesterday that have me mildly encouraged.

Snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle company Arctic Cat (ACAT - Get Report) reported a blowout quarter, with revenue rising 49% to $111.3 million, well above the $98.8 million consensus, and earnings beating the consensus by 22 cents.

After pulling back following last quarter's earnings release, Arctic Cat, which sells the epitome of discretionary products, has seemingly resumed its run up. The fact that consumers are opening their wallets for ATVs flies in the face of some of the consumer-sentiment data that suggests consumers are hunkering down.

Hunting and fishing retailer Cabela's (CAB - Get Report) saw its second-quarter revenue rise 11.6% to $627.3 million, easily beating the $606.3 million consensus estimate. Earnings per share of 47 cents beat the consensus by 8 cents. That's the fourth consecutive quarter the company has bested consensus earnings estimates.

>>Also See: A Hungry Man's IPO Wish List

This company has been quite a phenomenon over the past several years. Dismissed by critics because of its credit card operations and the "museum-like" feel of its stores, Cabela's shares have risen more than 800% since bottoming in late December 2008.

Fears of financial trouble due to ownership of its credit card operations were all but put to bed during the last recession, when defaults and write-offs stayed low and the markets realized that Cabela's Visa card holders have strong credit profiles and pay their bills. While this business is more recession proof than others, continued earnings surprises are nonetheless encouraging.

Switching gears to small technology names, laser system manufacturer Electro Scientific Industries (ESIO - Get Report) reported better-than-expected revenue of $59 million, compared to the $55.4 million consensus, and earnings of 6 cents a share, compared to the 3-cent consensus. At first glance, the report did not seem stellar, since revenue for the quarter fell 23% compared to the same quarter last year, but besides besting estimates, the company also said better times may be ahead.
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