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. New highs -- and new subscriber targets -- for Sirius XM Radio
Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) is doing so well that it's now looking to add more subscribers than it did last year, even though it increased its rates by 12% back in January.
The satellite-radio giant announced that it closed out the third quarter with 445,921 more subscribers than it had three months earlier. Sirius XM now expects to close out 2012 with 1.8 million net additions, surpassing the 1.7 million it tacked on in 2011.
It's impressive to follow this target as the year has played out. Sirius XM was only forecasting 1.3 million net new members for 2012 back in February. That target was bumped to 1.5 million in May and then 1.6 million in July.
Strong car sales have definitely helped, but Sirius XM's amazingly steady churn and conversion rates are helping the media giant make its own luck, too.
2. Netflix spells out a new barrier to entry
Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) finally reached a settlement with the National Association for the Deaf.
Netflix has been the subject of a class action lawsuit since 2010, accusing the video service of not providing closed captioning on all of its streaming content.
Whether or not this was a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act isn't the point. The standoff just didn't make Netflix look good. Along the way, Netflix has added more captions to its growing digital catalog. There are already captions on 82% of its online videos, though the settlement calls for all of Netflix's content to offer closed captioning for hearing-impaired viewers by 2014.
Netflix may have to pay a small settlement and bankroll the captioning process, but this actually improves the company's position. After all, this now makes it that much harder for the competition to enter this arena. Netflix can justify the captioning investment because it has nearly 24 million domestic streaming customers and millions more overseas.
3. Eat 'em up, Yum!
Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM ) is turning fast food into fast cash. The company behind Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC checked in with impressive quarterly results. Revenue and adjusted earnings per share climbed 9% and 19%, respectively.
It should be no surprise that China was a key contributor here. Yum! now has more than 4,000 KFC locations throughout China, and the world's most populous nation can't seem to get enough of the company's fried chicken.
However, things have also been holding up well for Yum! closer to home. Same-store sales in the U.S. grew 7% at Taco Bell, 6% at Pizza Hut, and 4% at KFC.
Taco Bell is naturally leading the way. There have been more than 2 million Doritos Locos tacos ordered since the product's springtime rollout, and this summer's debut of Cantina Bell is giving the chain a shot at slightly more upscale grub. However, to see all three of the company's concepts outpace inflation at the individual store level is still pretty impressive.
4. Short island iced tea
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) is joining forces with the Snapple Lady.
Green Mountain and Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS ) revealed on Tuesday that the two companies will begin offering Snapple's premium iced teas as Keurig K-Cups and Vue packs starting early next year.
The beverage line will be part of Green Mountain's Brew Over Ice line.
Yes, Green Mountain got some unwelcome news on Thursday, when Maxwell House announced that it will take advantage of K-Cup patent expirations to hit the market on its own, but Green Mountain's marketing support -- and the ability to put out packs for its new premium Vue brewer -- still have to go through the Keurig parent.
5. Wal-Mart speeds things up
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) will begin offering same-day delivery for online orders in four test markets starting next month.
This move from the world's largest retailer may seem silly at first. Wal-Mart is alluring because of its low prices. Who would pay a flat $10 fee to have an order placed in the morning delivered later that night? Well, Wal-Mart is simply keeping up with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , which rolled out a similar service in 10 cities earlier this year.
But Wal-Mart has an edge over Amazon here, in that there's only so far Amazon can expand this service, since it's limited by the number of its regional fulfillment centers. Wal-Mart is pretty much everywhere.
So if same-day delivery starts to matter, Wal-Mart is the one that can beat Amazon in scaling the service quickly.
There is finally an advantage to being a bricks-and-mortar chain.
Another smart move for you
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