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A George Costanza Market -- Who Knew?

Jonathan Heller

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Welcome to bizarro world where down is up and up is down; welcome to earnings season. Welcome to a world where companies are rewarded for poor performance, punished for good performance and where pundits are wrong much of the time. Yesterday was "opposite day" in true George Costanza fashion.

First, take Gannett , a name that has been putting up some pretty good numbers the past few years, after a rough 2008-2009, but the market has been slow to warm up to it.

Yesterday, the company announced good first quarter numbers, with revenue rising 1.6%, hitting the consensus estimate, and 37 cents earnings per share beating the consensus by two cents. All segments but advertising -- down 4.5% -- showed nice revenue gains, with broadcasting up 8.7%, and publishing circulation up 8.6%.

The market promptly rewarded Gannett with a 5% haircut, on a day that the S&P 500 was up more than 1%. What were they expecting, a dividend increase?

GCI data by YCharts

Meanwhile, RadioShack which is almost universally hated, except by a small subset of the value crowd, including yours truly and others who may believe that there may a puff or two left in this cigar butt, put up much worse than expected numbers.

Revenue fell 7% to $849 million, well below consensus estimates of $960 million. The company lost 35 cents per share for the quarter, much worse than the 10 cents a share loss consensus estimate. There's just not a lot of good here; cash fell by $101 million, primarily due to debt repayment.

So how did Mr. Market react? With a 1% up day for the company. Now, as a shareholder, I am not unhappy about that, but I do recognize the irony. New CEO Joe Magnacca, who helped turn around the Duane Reade drugstore chain, definitely has his work cut out for him. RadioShack still trades at just 1.22 times net current asset value.

RSH data by YCharts

Finally, there was the granddaddy of them all, Apple's second quarter earnings announcement, which occurred after market close.

You could sense the anticipation during the trading day, and it was about all that you heard from the financial media. It seemed that the pundits were forecasting either much worse than expected, or much better than expected numbers, as well as corresponding moves in the stock price.

While revenue ($43.6 billion) was ahead of consensus estimates ($42.6 billion), earnings per share ($10.09) were ever so close to the consensus ($10.07).

Ahead of the announcement, during regular trading, Apple shares were up about 1.9%. After the announcement, shares rose as high as $429.90, a 6% gain, in after-hours trading, as euphoria set in with some investors regarding Apple's announced dividend and share buyback increase.

That optimism quickly faded, and this morning's pre-market trading find's Apple in the $403 range, down $3 from yesterday's close. So much for expectations for a big move, either way.

This stuff never gets old.

At the time of publication the author held long positions GCI, RSH.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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