If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Starbucks banks on baking
Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) is looking to beef up its food offerings.
The baron of baristas is snapping up the La Boulange bakery brand. The market didn't initially like the move. Starbucks saw its market cap take a $2 billion hit on the news on Tuesday, even though this was only a $100 million deal.
Yes, the purchase will be dilutive to earnings in the short run, but isn't this the same market that bid up the stock after it acquired a juice chain and entered into the single-serve coffee market?
Starbucks is smart to be thinking outside of the bean box. Given the plunge in coffee prices and the potential market saturation of its flagship product, why shouldn't the java giant find new ways to increase store revenue?
2. Green shoots
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) has had a rough few months, but it caught a couple of breaks this week.
Yesterday Starbucks confirmed that it would begin selling its branded K-Cups -- for Green Mountain's Keurig brewers -- in its stores on Tuesday. The Starbucks K-Cups have been available through several retail establishments since November, but this is the first time the refill pods will be made available inside actual Starbucks stores. That's going to be a big ambassadorial win for Green Mountain, as Starbucks customers see this as public validation for Keurig's one-cup system.
However, Green Mountain has other tricks up its sleeve. The company revealed earlier in the week that it's working with pharmaceutical companies on the prospect of wellness beverages that pack vitamins and minerals. It may sound hokey at first, but think about the premium people pay for vitamin-spiked water and energy drinks.
3. Baidu ads it up in China
Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) is the undisputed champ when it comes to paid search in the world's most populous nation. Now the dot-com darling is hoping to cash in on its active message-board platform.
A report out of China indicates that Baidu will begin monetizing Baidu Tieba, its simple yet popular interactive forum.
Obviously slapping ads on message boards will never be as lucrative as getting advertisers to bid on keywords for top placement on search results. However, it's incremental.
Baidu closed out its latest quarter with roughly 321,000 active marketing customers, giving China's online advertising leader a beefy Rolodex of clients to pitch this new way of advertising.
4. Westport picks Caterpillar to find a butterfly
Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT ) is a gas.
The fast-growing developer of natural-gas and liquefied-petroleum-gas engines and fuel systems had a big week after announcing an agreement with heavy-gear maker Caterpillar to develop natural-gas engines for off-road equipment.
Westport may not be profitable, but its technology is real and already available. The high upfront cost of fuel systems relying on liquefied natural gas makes it prohibitive for casual drivers, but the payoff comes quickly for trucks and commercial vehicles that go through a lot of miles. Natural gas is way cheaper than traditional gasoline.
Caterpillar is a logical partner. It may take years before we begin seeing the fruit of this arrangement, but every deal matters when it comes to validating Westport's model.
5. The fizz down under
SodaStream (Nasdaq: SODA ) is teaming up with Australian kitchen appliance maker Breville on a new soda maker. The jointly developed beverage carbonator system will feature Breville's name, tagged with "Powered By SodaStream" to bring both parties into the fold.
SodaStream is already a force in many international markets, but Australia's Breville is a name that consumers know and trust beyond just fizzy drinks.
As we saw with Starbucks introducing K-Cups and Westport striking a deal with Caterpillar, it's all about validation.
Keep it coming
If you want to make some smart stock moves yourself, find out about The Motley Fool's top stock for 2012. It's a free report, but only for a limited time, so check it out now.