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Election Day is finally here! The broad-based S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) shot out of the gate like a cannonball and spent the entire session higher on the hope that tonight's results will lead to a decisive winner. The stock markets hate uncertainty, and it appears that by tomorrow, one way or another, we'll have a clear indication of where the U.S. is headed over the coming four years from a policies perspective. The S&P 500 rose by 11.13 points (0.79%) to end at 1,428.39.
First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR ) had a particularly nice day, up 6%, because it'll probably face a pro-solar government regardless of whether current President Obama retains, or Gov. Romney wins, the presidency. First Solar's latest earnings report definitely didn't live up to investors' expectations; however, it has been garnering contracts at an impressive pace in recent months. The Fool's energy expert, Travis Hoium, thinks the First Solar may be poised to run higher over the long term.
Beyond politics, earnings reports also played a big part in today's S&P 500 move.
Computer Sciences (NYSE: CSC ) was the biggest gainer within the index, rising a brisk 17%, after crushing Wall Street's second-quarter EPS forecast by $0.36 and guiding its third-quarter guidance well above the Street's estimates. Operating margins improved 960 basis points over last year, and the IT solutions company exhibited margin gains across all three sectors. Investors may want to keep their optimism contained, though, as my Foolish colleague Brian Pacampara notes that Computer Sciences is carrying a large amount of debt on its balance sheet.
On the other hand, pharmacy-benefits management company Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX ) and accessories company Fossil (Nasdaq: FOSL ) found themselves on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, falling 12% and 10%, respectively.
Express Scripts' third-quarter results weren't the issue, as the company actually topped EPS estimates by $0.03. Instead, the company's CEO, George Paz, crushed investors' expectations by cautioning that guidance for 2013 might be too optimistic and Wall Street may want to tone down its expectations. If you recall, I've been concerned about its cost savings with Medco and figured the megamerger was unlikely to go off without a hitch.
Fossil continued its wild ride come earnings season. Once again, flat wholesale revenue in Europe doomed Fossil in spite of a 17% rise in EPS (which beat Wall Street's expectations by $0.12), and a 6% improvement in revenue (which fell short of estimates by $29 million). Furthermore, Fossil's management doesn't expect its European wholesale business to improve anytime soon. Perhaps we'll have better clarity on where European spending is heading within the next six months.
The sun is shining
Regardless of which administration takes office come January, the solar industry and First Solar are bound to be a major part of that administration's plan for U.S. energy independence. Click here to get your copy of our latest premium report on First Solar and find out what opportunities and threats are facing the company. Complete with a year of regular updates, this report will give you the tools needed to make smart long-term investing decisions.