This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

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. On a Sirius roll
Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) is doing far better than even the company thought it would a year ago.

The satellite radio provider revealed this week that it closed out 2012 with 2 million more subscribers than it had when the year began. Sirius XM initiated its guidance for 2012 early last year by forecasting just 1.3 million net additions.

Sirius XM's big 2012 is impressive since it rolled out a 12% rate increase last January. Bracing for high churn in testing its pricing elasticity, Sirius XM was expecting to close out the year with fewer net additions than the 1.7 million that came aboard in 2011 and the 1.4 million that joined in 2010.

Yes, Sirius XM's guidance for 2013 calls for just 1.4 million net additions, but that's not bad. The media giant has a habit of issuing conservative guidance that it bumps higher throughout the year. It's also worth noting that the 1.6 million in net self-pay additions that Sirius XM is targeting would actually match 2012's tally on that front.

2. Ford tough
Auto sales are running at multiyear highs, and at least one carmaker is sharing the wealth.

Ford (NYSE: F  ) announced on Thursday that it was doubling its quarterly dividend to $0.10 a share. The move pushes the automaker's yield up to 2.9%, making it the highest-yielding investment among the major car manufacturers.

Cynics can argue that Ford should have come through with this move a few weeks ago, joining the many companies that were declaring meatier payouts ahead of the 2012 fiscal cliff. However, the point here is that Ford is doing well enough that it feels comfortable tapping into its vault despite the cyclical nature of the industry and the company's own meaty pension obligations.

3. Finnish but not finished
Don't bury Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) just yet. The global leader in traditional feature phones sold a whopping 6.6 million smartphones this past quarter.

A reasonable 2.2 million of those were based on the fading Symbian platform that's on its last legs overseas, but Nokia also cleared 4.4 million Lumia handsets fueled by Windows Phone.

We live in a world where Android and iOS are the platforms of choice. It may surprise one to learn that there were 6.6 million smartphones sold this past quarter that weren't Android or iOS, and even more surprising to find that a single company was behind the push.

Obviously, it will be important to see how Nokia's Lumia sales fare into 2013. The Windows Phone 8 update in late October was a clear spark, and we have to learn if the holiday quarter's strong showing is more than just a novelty spike.

It's still a welcome accomplishment for a company that has had little to cheer about in recent years. Nokia's stock soared 19% on the news.

4. This is 40 -- billion
Apple
(NASDAQ: AAPL  ) hit a meaty milestone this week. The world's most valuable tech company announced on Monday that there have been more than 40 billion app downloads since the introduction of its revolutionary App Store during the summer of 2008.

Given the momentum of iOS devices, it probably isn't a surprise that half of those 40 billion downloads happened last year. Last month alone saw more than 2 billion downloads. There are 500 million active App Store accounts, and developers have created more than 775,000 apps.

Sure, most of that downloading volume is probably for free applications, but it's still impressive.

You also have to love Apple's timing. It announced the milestone a day after the CES keynote presentation and the day before exhibitors began showing off their latest wares. Apple steals the show, even when it's not in the show.

5. Amazon's slipped disc
CD sales may be on a sharp decline since peaking a dozen years ago, but Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) has found a way to milk the optical disc until it's gone.

The leading e-tailer introduced AutoRip this week. It has gotten together with three major labels covering more than 50,000 albums to offer anyone that buys a CD through Amazon -- or has bought one over the past 15 years through the store -- instant access to all of the tracks as streams and downloads through its fledgling Cloud Player platform.

It's a brilliant move on a few different levels.

For starters, it goes where Apple can't. Apple's iTunes Music Store is the country's leading music retailer, but it can't match Amazon on this. It doesn't sell CDs, and has no plans to do so. It can always team up with fading real-world chains, but that would only draw attention to Amazon's one-stop shop of instant streaming gratification on physical purchases.

This is also big for Amazon because it will not only drum up CD sales, but also encourage usage of Amazon's cloud-based storage and streaming services. This will matter even more if Amazon finally goes through with the long-rumored entry into the smartphone market.

Amazon is a smart cookie, even if AutoRip appears to be an odd embrace of a fading medium.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2013, at 10:48 AM, TimKnows wrote:

    Apple pays a ton of money to allow their consumers to download free apps, no wonder the stock never rallies.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2013, at 11:58 AM, techy46 wrote:

    "We live in a world where Android and iOS are the platforms of choice"

    Everybody knows we live in a competitive world where yesterday's choices can be tomorrow's trash. Only the paranoid survive and that was Steve's biggest fault, he was too arrogant to think that the PC was dead.

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