If you're feeling down this week, cheer up. The world wasn't all layoffs, missed earnings, and guidance knockdowns, as these upbeat headlines demonstrate:

1. The chemicals between us
Providing a welcome break from disappointing quarterly results, Monsanto (NYSE:MON) blew past Wall Street expectations. The agricultural-chemicals titan saw its fiscal first quarter earnings more than double.

As a result of the healthy start to its fiscal year, Monsanto also raised the low end of its annual guidance.

It's easy to see why Monsanto is a winner. The company's seeds and herbicides are in demand, since there are still fields to harvest. We can bellyache all we want about the economy, but we still have to eat.

2. Scoring a TD in the think tank
It's been four years since the leading discount brokers last went on buying sprees. The industry returned to its sector-consolidating ways yesterday, when TD AMERITRADE (NASDAQ:AMTD) agreed to buy fast-growing rival thinkorswim Group (NASDAQ:SWIM).

I like this move for several reasons:

  • The $606 million deal will be accretive to earnings, with TD AMERITRADE initiating a buyback for the stock-based portion of the deal.
  • The 87,000 accounts at thinkorswim.com are active traders, averaging a brisk 176 trades a year.
  • The deal will more than double TD AMERITRADE's options-trading transactions. Since these are speculators who thrive on volatility, their patronage will make the company less of a slave to bull markets.

The purchase also takes place while the industry's publicly-traded companies are trading at low prices, despite showing healthy gains in trading activity.

3. Sirius is more star than dog
There was a double shot of positive news from Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) this week. The first piece of good news is that the company was able to swap equity for $6 million in debt due to be repaid next month. That may not seem like much, but the fact that Sirius keeps paying down its massive debt load, and talking creditors into becoming investors, will go a long way toward battling bankruptcy concerns.

The other upbeat item is that the company finally introduced its first interoperable radio yesterday. Putting out a radio that can receive both Sirius and XM is an original concession that regulators required for winning merger approval, but the move will also help the satellite radio operator.

When the receivers hit retailers early in the springtime, consumer electronics chains and department stores will be able to promote something truly new -- a product that doesn't involve educating the buyer until a decision is made between the competing platforms. It should also work wonders for the conversion rates at the auto-dealer level, once interoperable car receivers give drivers a seamless choice.

4. Prepaying the tolls
There is apparently money to be made in catering to both diehard gamers and Clamato-sipping vampires ready to see Twilight for the fiftieth time. GameStop (NYSE:GME) and Hot Topic (NASDAQ:HOTT) were two of the rare chains to post positive comps over the holidays, scoring same-store sales gains of 10% and 4%, respectively.

GameStop scored as video game buffs picked up on the latest titles, also taking advantage on the hardware side as a result of greater Wii availability and lower Xbox 360 prices. Goth haven Hot Topic has bounced back in recent months, perhaps inspired by the success of the Twilight franchise making its emo garb and accessories more fashionable.

5. Grounded for too long
Maybe it's finally time to believe in Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW). The company announced a shakeup at the top of its ranks, along with cost-cutting initiatives that should shave another $20 million to $25 million annually, in addition to the $20 million in savings it announced two months ago.

Incoming CEO Barney Harford is young, but he has worked with and advised many of Orbitz Worldwide's rivals. Since Orbitz has been a historical laggard, knowing how the competition ticks can only be a good thing. The market likes the change in scenery, and so do I.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He's the inspiration for The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" song. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.