If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of last week's more uplifting headlines.
1. IMAX hearts James Cameron
A theatrical blockbuster with some serious legs is validating IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX ) as a cinematic platform.
The movie magnifier announced on Monday that its 179 domestic screens playing Avatar accounted for 21% of the film's overall stateside take over the last weekend in January. The clincher here is that 179 locations account for just 2% of the domestic screens currently running James Cameron's sci-fi epic.
IMAX will naturally outdraw a typical multiplex theater. Its arenas usually seat more patrons, and movie buffs are willing to pay a few extra bucks per ticket for IMAX's sensory splendor. Even during Avatar's opening weekend two months ago, IMAX accounted for 13% of the film's domestic gross -- despite representing less than 3% of the total screens showing the movie.
Seeing IMAX's percentage grow as the film's release drags on is great news. It means that now -- when the film is no longer in a state of perpetual sellouts -- filmgoers are seeking out IMAX as the theatrical experience of choice.
2. Sirius gets smartphone
BlackBerry owners can now stream Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and dozens of commercial-free music stations. Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) released its streaming app for select Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) smartphones last week, months after its iTunes App Store debut.
Online streaming isn't much of a driver these days. The real growth catalysts for satellite radio have come from factory-installed receivers in new cars. However, any premium streaming subscribers will be incremental and brand-widening.
Streaming will also be important if Sirius XM ever has global ambitions, since it can reach markets that the company's North American satellites can't.
3. Cisco dancing
If IT spending is a leading indicator of an economic recovery, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) has some good news to share.
The networking giant saw second-quarter sales and pro forma profits climb 8% and 25%, respectively. Even if Cisco's front-line gains are often marginally enhanced by acquisitions, the margin expansion is awesome, whether it's organic or not.
4. Bidding on Baidu
We may now be several weeks into the "China vs. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) " battle royale, but it's still apparently not too late to find yet another analyst conceding that Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) will be the big winner here.
Credit Suisse upgraded China's leading search engine last Monday. It may be late to the party, but it has a sound thesis. Unlike the first wave of analysts, which jumped on Baidu under the assumption that Google would bow out, Credit Suisse has the more realistic position that Google will kowtow to the Chinese government's censoring demands, instead of leaving the world's most populous nation.
How is this good for Baidu? Well, Credit Suisse believes that Chinese advertisers will be reluctant to continue sponsored search campaigns on Google (and that search engine users may follow suit). Standing up to the restrictive Chinese government may have won Google kudos from human-rights activists, but the company may now be blackballed by advertisers who don't want to be associated with Big G.
In the end, that means more market share and ad dollars going through Baidu.
5. Dividend with a view
Marriott (NYSE: MAR ) is reinitiating its $0.04-a-share quarterly cash dividend. The hotelier had switched over to a stock-based payout last year, when the recession was strangling the travel industry.
However, now that folks are starting to travel again -- and Marriott has successfully cut its debt by $800 million, to $2.3 billion -- the lodging giant is comfortable in digging into its pockets to tip bellhop shareholders.