This Is the Reason the S&P 500 Eked Out a Gain Today

Devoid of big economic data, weak corporate earnings took the spotlight and continued to provide enough reasons to push the market indexes lower throughout most of the day. However, following Friday's drubbing, investors seemed willing to shrug off their pessimism by day's end and pushed the broad-based S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) ever so slightly higher by 0.62 points (0.04%), to 1,433.81.

VF (NYSE: VFC  ) , the company behind Wrangler jeans and North Face, was one of those companies that couldn't win for trying today. It reported a 27% increase in net income, increased its quarterly dividend by 21%, and noted a 14% rise in revenue to $3.12 billion in the third quarter. Yet investors chose to focus on the $40 million revenue miss and pushed the share price down better than 4%. It was just one of those days for what appears to be a company clicking on all cylinders.

The same can't be said for energy-drink maker Monster Beverage (Nasdaq: MNST  ) , which took a monstrous 18% dive midday following news that it was being sued for allegedly causing the death of a 14-year-old girl -- it finished lower by 14%. The lawsuit alleges that Monster Energy drinks have been implicated in six deaths and 15 hospitalizations since 2009 and could be the impetus that draws the Food and Drug Administration to take a closer look at possibly regulating the energy-drink industry. It's a concern I've warned about before, and it's no longer as far-fetched as my Back to the Future-inspired report suggests.

On the other side of the aisle, Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU  ) registered the biggest jump within the S&P 500, rising 12%, following the release of its third-quarter report. A mixture of higher demand from China, cost-cutting, and rising natural gas prices, which make coal more attractive, boosted results well beyond Wall Street's expectations. Peabody also raised the low end of its sales forecast by 10 million tons to a range of 240 million and 250 million tons. Needless to say, the coal sector looks like a fantastic candidate to rebound in 2013.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) was another big winner today, rallying 4% in anticipation of the debut of the iPad Mini (or whatever the company chooses to call it) on Tuesday. There's been a little concern on the Street recently regarding iPhone 5 sales and Apple's need to move to lower-price-point items to compete with its peers, but Apple remains a prime technological innovator ripe with lots of cash and a cult-like following, and shareholders probably have little to fear.

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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Monster Beverage and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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