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. Pandora pumps up the volume
Pandora
(NYSE: P  ) shares are trading at fresh 52-week highs after posting better-than-expected revenue growth, and some of the welcome ingredients in that recipe are milking more mobile ad revenue per user and seeing the number of its paying customers more than double over the past year.

Another smart move by Pandora ahead of Thursday's strong report was the launch of Pandora Premieres. The new channel finds the country's leading music streaming website operator working with the major record labels to preview upcoming album releases.

That's a pretty big deal in the music industry, where artists like to keep new releases under wraps ahead of retail releases on piracy fears.

Pandora also has a corporate sponsor for the channel, giving it another revenue stream beyond traditional ads and its rapidly growing subscription revenue.

2. Amazon's a fan of fan fiction
If anyone could find a way to turn fan fiction into a potential money maker, it had to be Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) .

The leading online retailer announced on Wednesday that it's teaming up with some existing franchises to allow fans who like to craft their own storylines to upload related fan fiction to Amazon's Kindle Store.

Kindle Worlds has deals with just three properties for now. Amazon has secured licenses for fan fiction related to Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries. More properties will come, especially if they prove popular with readers and aspiring writers.

The standard author's royalty rate will be 35% of net revenue for works that are at least 10,000 words long. Amazon and the licensing partners will split the rest.

3. Starbucks sends in a benchwarmer
Starbucks
(NASDAQ: SBUX  ) is dusting off its Seattle's Best Coffee concept as a paved asphalt darling.

The baron of baristas opened 10 Seattle's Best Coffee locations in Dallas this week. It didn't target the modestly upscale strip malls that house its flagship coffeehouses. No. These 10 stores are small locations in parking lots, and all but two of them happen to be in the lots of thrifty shopper haven Wal-Mart.

There won't be any cozy couches or jazzy tunes. There's no eat-in space. It's just drive-thru and walk-up window service.

This is a smart move for Starbucks. Seattle's Best lost some steam when Borders went out of business two years ago, and now Starbucks can repurpose the chain as a better competitor to the value-minded McCafe and Dunkin' Donuts competition.

4. One and done
Microsoft
(NASDAQ: MSFT  ) dusted off its new gaming console.

Xbox One will hit stores later this year, raising the bar in entertainment for die-hard gamers and fans of interactive television.

It wasn't a perfect presentation. We didn't get a price or a firm release date. Microsoft also later confirmed through tech blogs that older games and even Xbox 360 controllers won't work with the new system.

However, Xbox One is doing a lot of neat things with making television viewing more engaging. The Kinect update that's accompanying the system will make existing smart televisions seem dumb in comparison.

More important, Microsoft actually showed what the Xbox One looks like. Its gaming rival failed to actually show the PlayStation 4 earlier this year at its media event.

5. All charged up
Tesla Motors
(NASDAQ: TSLA  ) didn't take out the all-time highs it hit a week earlier, but it did take out an important creditor.

When the electric car maker wired $452 million to the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday, it paid off the remaining portion of the federal loan it received four years ago. Tesla then went on to hail itself as the only American car company to fully repay the government.

Chrysler took exception to that remark, calling Tesla's claim "unmistakably incorrect" but anyone who knows Tesla CEO Elon Musk knows that he doesn't back down from a fight.

Musk took to Twitter to point out that Chrysler is now majority-owned by an Italian automaker and that it only paid back $11.2 billion of the $12.5 billion that was extended to Chrysler.

Despite the colorful clash, the point is ultimately that Tesla did pay off its government loan. It's doing spectacularly well these days, even turning a surprising profit in its latest quarter. Zeroing out the books with the country's jaded taxpayers will only help it win over more friends in the future.

So far, Tesla's plan to disrupt the global auto business has yielded spectacular results. But giant competitors are already moving to disrupt it. Will the company be able to fend them off? The Motley Fool answers this question and more in our most in-depth Tesla research available. Get instant access by clicking here now.


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