If you're feeling down this week, take my hand as we go over some of the more uplifting headlines of the week. Yes, it wasn't all layoffs, missed earnings, and guidance knockdowns.
1. Sam Walton would be proud
It pays to be thrifty. Wal-Mart
This is actually a pretty important one-two dose of good news. We all know that sales are improving at Wal-Mart, as department store shoppers flock to the discounter to stretch their dollars. However, a company doesn't bump up its yield based on top-line performance. If margins contract and earnings shrink, declaring a heftier payout is a big mistake. Wal-Mart is telegraphing that it is comfortable enough with its earnings power to boost its dividend.
Well played, Wal-Mart, well played.
2. While my fake guitar gently weeps
Let's high-five Viacom
Sure, most of the band's music is straightforward fare when it comes to music simulations. There are no thunderous Ringo Starr drum solos, and the fretwork through most of the band's catalog is pretty tame. I trust that Viacom's Harmonix as the publisher -- and Electroinc Arts
And with love like that, you know you should be glad.
3. Amazon wants your tired games
In a brilliant response to this penny-pinching recession, Amazon.com
If this sounds a lot like GameStop's
Regardless, it's a great move by Amazon. It gets to beef up its offerings for cash-strapped gamers as it enters a niche -- that at least to GameStop -- offers chunkier margins than selling new games and gear.
4. Twilight's matinee
Few seem to be cashing in on the success of the Twilight book and movie franchise as well as Hot Topic
No one should be surprised to find comps at Hot Topic soaring by nearly 11% last month, bucking the mall malaise. Few should be shocked to find that shares of Hot Topic have now doubled off of last year's low, in sharp contrast to its specialty apparel peers going the other way.
Teens are fickle, so Hot Topic is doing the right thing in striking while the iron is hot. Investors just need to be prepared for when the iron cools off, as it inevitably does.
5. Born on the Baidu
The encouraging aspect of the upgrade is that the analyst claims that traffic at Baidu has bounced back since late January. Fears that the company would lose visitors over concerns of its sketchy advertisers appear to be blowing over.
Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Baidu is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Amazon.com, Electronic Arts, and GameStop are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
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.