Charles Biderman, TrimTabs' CEO, wonders whether the decidedly positive turn in the employment data just as an election year begins isn't politically motivated, calling the numbers from the BLS "suspiciously high.""Actual jobs outstanding, not seasonally adjusted, are down 2.9 million over the past two months," Biderman says. "It is only after seasonal adjustments -- made at the sole discretion of the Bureau of Labor Statistics economists -- that 2.9 million fewer jobs gets translated into 446,000 new seasonally adjusted jobs." He continued: "No one I know has any idea how the BLS does its seasonal adjustments. The BLS revises historic data every month for several months until actual payroll data is used to benchmark the BLS data almost a year in arrears. In other words, the BLS currently has accurate data for March 2011 and before." Either way, be on the lookout for a potential big gain hangover on Monday. So far this year, the Dow is up 5.3%, its best start to a year since 1997. The S&P 500 is up 6.9% in 2012, its fastest jump out of the gate since 1987 (although that didn't turn out so well). The Nasdaq Composite has surged an incredible 11.5%, pushing the index to heights unseen in more than a decade. FactSet Research offered up some analysis on Friday of why stocks seem to be getting a pass on a ho-hum earnings season (excluding Apple ( AAPL)), saying that the buy side is slowing getting more optimistic about 2012 as a whole. "Looking at bottoms-up EPS estimates for the index, analysts are calling for a drop in earnings in Q1 2012 relative to Q4 2011," the firm said in commentary on Friday. "But after Q1 2012, earnings are projected to continue to increase for the remainder of 2012. It is also interesting to note that while the bottoms-up EPS estimates for Q1 2012 through Q3 2012 have recorded declines since December 31, the bottoms-up EPS estimate for Q4 2012 has remained unchanged during this time frame."
FactSet said that 272 S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results so far, and 65% have come in above the mean estimate. That percentage is a bit skewed, however, because roughly 20% of companies warned ahead of their reports, lowering the bar in many cases. On a valuation basis, FactSet estimates the current 12-month price-to-earnings ratio for the S&P 500 at 12.4, which is below the 10-year average of 14.6.Switching gears, it's always interesting to look at which stocks don't participate in a broad rally like the one seen on Friday. Research In Motion ( RIMM) was one whose presence was notably absent as the stock dipped nearly 2% following a downgrade by Jefferies. Another stock showing weakness was Best Buy ( BBY), which lost 1.8% to $23.86 after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its price target on the shares to $19, arguing that Apple's ascendance is a problem for the company. "We view Apple's record-breaking results last week as a very negative indicator for BBY," said the firm, which has an underperform rating on the stock. "Increased sales of Apple products by BBY would be negative for margins. More importantly, with Apple's own retail sales up 61% in the quarter, we believe traffic at BBY stores was hurt, with more people choosing to shop in AAPL stores." B of A Merrill Lynch also found warning signs in news from RadioShack ( RSH) and Amazon.com ( AMZN), saying Best Buy could be affected by weak Sprint ( S) activations the way RadioShack was and that poor sales of game consoles through Amazon bode poorly as well as the firm estimates as much as 13% of Best Buy's revenue comes from gaming. Best Buy shares are down 32% in the past year, and if Apple's dominance is a bad thing for the company, more pain likely lies ahead for shareholders. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Best Buy for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more. Moving on to Monday's scheduled news, Coinstar ( CSTR) is reporting its fiscal fourth-quarter results after the closing bell and the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 64 cents a share in the December-ended period on revenue of $498.1 million.