The Week:  Trading By the Numbers

Andrew Fisher

Earnings Season shifted into high gear, both corporate results and economic statistics were all over the proverbial map, and investors and traders found opportunities in some unlikely places. 

There was encouragement not only from companies whose results were good, but also from

some that were not so good. (See the full wrap in the accompanying video).

1.  Results Get Results

Drugmaker Merck posted a decline in revenues, but Deutsche Bank's Barbara Ryan told CNBC that was not the whole story.

The Week & You

"When we look at the major products that Merck sells, and what's really important to its future, those did really well," she said.

She also recommended Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb.

Texas Instruments reported a 28 percent jump in profits, and profits more than doubled at Boston Scientific.

McDonald's said first-quarter profits, though U.S. same-store sales were down for the first time in five years, and United Airlines reported a loss of more than half a billion dollars.

And on Thursday, Ford dazzled the markets with an unexpected quarterly profit.  CEO Alan Mulally gave CNBC's Phil Lebeau two reasons:

"One is, we clearly have been restructuring ourselves to get back to profitability, so that clearly is a piece," Mulally said.  "The other is, all the new products we have around the world are stabilizing our market share."

2.  The Rage Of Aquarius

Tuesday was Earth Day, and with commodities reflecting a new challenge to sustainability, companies whose products save money while saving the environment were in the spotlight more than ever.

Matt Patsky of Winslow Management recommended the stock of Interface, a carpet company.

"They actually are collecting back carpet that they've made in the past, chopping it up, reprocessing it, and producing new carpet with old carpet squares," he explained.

Barry James of James Advantage Funds sounded a little like a character from "The Graduate" when he recommended a plastics producer, Owens Illinois:

"Number one, we want something that's good relative value, that has had a history of good earnings, and the price has been outperforming the market, and Owens-Illinois meets all those criteria," he said.

3.  After the Fall

Wednesday was the day for the annual meeting of's parent company, General Electric .  CNBC's Mary Thompson asked Chief Executive Jeff Immelt why he had not given any warning about the disappointing first-quarter earnings the company posted earlier this month,

"This was late-breaking," he replied.  "A lot of people would say that the last part of March was really tough.  Clearly, if we had known it before, we would have said something, but we knew it when we knew it."

Immelt said GE's cost-cutting target for 2008 has been raised from $2 billion to $3 billion.

4.  Doll, As In "Dollar"

BlackRock's Bob Doll was more convinced than ever about his proclamation that things hit bottom a few weeks ago.

"We think we've passed the low -- this was March 17 -- and we will work our way higher in this bottoming process," he told CNBC.

Doll recommended a bunch of big-cap technology stocks: IBM, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and Microsoft .

5.  Which Way Is Up?

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrialstraded briefly above 12,900 for the first time since early January.

But there was still an over-supply of bad news as well.

The real estate industry reported that sales of existing homes declined in March, and the Commerce Department followed that with an even worse reading in sales of new homes, as inventories reached their highest level in 27 years. (Greenwich mansions see foreclosures).

Finally, on Friday, Angel Gurria, the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, pronounced the global financial system "paralyzed," and said it will take some time to get back to normal.

Whatever that is.