Today's 3 Best Stocks in the S&P 500

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Looking for a good day from the markets? It could have been worse, investors, as the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) kicked off the morning in free fall before slogging its way back up the charts. That still wasn't enough to keep the index out of the red, as the S&P 500 closed down around five points, or 0.3%, but it's much better than the loss the market was on pace for early on in the day.

Volatility's become the market's new best friend, it seems, with Wall Street uncertain on how to approach stocks' run-up this year. Earnings season's hitting a close, but that doesn't mean that several companies aren't still making a big impact with strong -- or disappointing -- third-quarter results to shake up investors' outlook.

Speaking of outlooks, the European Commission sure isn't showing any optimistic projections for next year. The commission pared its growth forecast for Europe's 2014 long before the opening bell clanged today, estimating the continent's GDP to pick up by 1.1% next year -- down from an earlier projection of 1.2%. Still, that's miles better than the 0.4% contraction that it predicts Europe will end up reporting this year.

No doubt that didn't help the S&P 500's start to the day, but it didn't hinder any of the index's best stocks, either.

Fossil Group (NASDAQ: FOSL  ) bounced almost 3% today after high-end apparel retailer Michael Kors (NYSE: KORS  ) scored a big beat in its third-quarter earnings. Kors beat Wall Street's expectations on both the top and bottom lines, with its European sales alone more than doubling for the quarter. Not bad for a continent still lingering in recession.

How do Kors' gains help Fossil's stock? The two operate in the same high-end accessories space, and Fossil makes watches for Michael Kors. That bodes well for Fossil's own performance, with watch revenue contributing more than three-quarters of its overall sales. It also pumped up investors for today's Fossil earnings results after the bell, and the company reported its own 20% growth in watch sales for the third quarter, with its operating income jumping 25%. As Fossil's stock continued to rise in after-hours trading, I'd say investors were pleased.

Food producer ConAgra (NYSE: CAG  ) took a 2.9% jump of its own today, even though the company didn't have news of note out. It even soared on a day when many other food stocks failed to make a dent. ConAgra's stock has fallen 15% in the past three months, making today's gain likely investors taking advantage of that recent dip. The company has reinforced its revenue after its $5 billion acquisition of Ralcorp last year, but ConAgra's largest business division -- its consumer foods branch -- has failed to make much progress lately, seeing sales slip around 2% in the last quarter. ConAgra's still among the biggest private-label food companies in the U.S., but it'll have to find a way to spark growth in a sluggish industry once the synergies of the Ralcorp buy wear off.

There's plenty of momentum behind today's big winner on the S&P 500, however. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN  ) blew away the field with gains of 7.3% after a strong third-quarter earnings release this morning. Sales of vision loss therapy Eylea soared 49% in the quarter, helping Regeneron's profit easily top analyst expectations -- although it still fell on a year-over-year basis.

The good result pushed Regeneron to increase its forecast for Eylea's top-end sales for the year. Regeneron also picked up $45 million from a partnership with Bayer for the drug's international distribution. The international scene is where some analysts are pegging Eylea's future growth potential as the drug's sales continue to rise. If Regeneron can build up Eylea globally, it'll be on pace to continue what's been a spectacular year so far for this stock.

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