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Today's 3 Best Stocks

Sean Williams
February 21, 2013

The reality of the fact that, in one week, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts is about to go into effect, doesn't appear to be sitting well with the broad-based S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC). While fiscal cuts are needed in order to reduce the federal deficit, both Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart with ideas as to how to achieve these spending cuts. If no accord is reached, the defense sector can expect some major funding cuts beginning March 1.

Following yesterday's tumultuous drop, the S&P 500 continued its trek to the downside, giving up another 9.53 points (-0.63%), to close at 1,502.42. Although the move was decisively lower, yet again, there were three incredible standouts within the S&P 500.

Grocer Safeway (NYSE: SWY) was the biggest gainer within the index today, gaining 14.1%, following the release of better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. For the quarter, revenue improved 1%, to $13.77 billion, as EPS leapt to $1.02, from $0.67 in the year-ago period. Part of its strength can be traced to its customer loyalty programs, which have resulted in higher-than-expected mobile app and digital coupon usage; but it's also a direct reflection of its aggressive share repurchases. In addition, because of the NetSpend Holdings acquisition earlier this week, Safeway's subsidiary, Blackhawk Network Holdings, which is slated to be spun off sometime in the first-half of 2013, could find its value heading even higher. The Safeway turnaround looks well under way!

Speaking of turnarou