The markets weren't as kind in May as they've been during most of the past year. But that doesn't mean all the news is bad. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Purple tarot cards
Yahoo! has done this before. I called then-CEO Jerry Yang out two years ago, when he predicted ambitious growth targets for 2010. It seemed to be a foolhardy deflection tactic at the time, and I was right. Yahoo! will be well short of its call for revenue before traffic-acquisition costs (TAC) to hit $8.8 billion this year.
Yet things feel different this time. Yahoo! isn't sitting still with Carol Bartz at the helm. It's selling off non-core assets and nibbling away at strategic acquisitions.
2. Driving home the point
Auto-parts retailers: They're not just for recessions anymore.
What's that? You thought net income and earnings per share were essentially the same thing? Not so fast. AutoZone has been aggressively repurchasing its shares. Buybacks have shaved the number of fully diluted shares outstanding by 11%, and the math is kinder when you're dividing quarterly profits by fewer shares.
The retailer has now delivered 15 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth on the bottom line. When AutoZone and its peers rolled through the economic downturn, analysts figured folks weren't buying new cars, so they had to spend more to maintain their aging vehicles. Auto sales have roared back since last summer's "Cash for Clunkers" push, and AutoZone is still going strong.
3. Google rolls up its sleeves
The world's leading search engine kicked off the week by letting website publishers, bloggers, and webmasters who rely on Google's AdSense program for sponsored syndication know that it pays 68% of its related ad revenue back to AdSense participants. Beyond divulging the higher average that it pays out once it includes larger publishers, Google had kept its formula secret since AdSense's inception in 2003.
A day later, Google released a study detailing the company's financial impact on a state-by-state basis. For instance, in my home state of Florida, Google claims to have generated $3.2 billion of economic activity for 119,000 Florida businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits last year. Big G calculated the impact by combing through revenue paid out to AdSense partners, looking at the value of donated advertising space to charitable organizations, and assessing the value of leads generated through both Google's AdWords platform and organic search results.
Revealing its revenue-sharing payout rate will help keep publishers close, especially since it's just a matter of time before Microsoft
As for the economic-impact study: The more people who see Google as a revenue maker and job creator, the harder it will be to come down on the company as it grows and grows.
4. Apple's silver lining
Step up to the silver-medal podium, Apple
Everyone has seen this coming. Apple continues to grow briskly. Microsoft is a relative slouch compared with the class of Cupertino.
Next stop, ExxonMobil? Well, not so fast. Apple will still need to tack on almost $60 billion more in value before topping the gasoline giant to become the country's most valuable company.
For now, Apple can enjoy the fruits of its labor. It's a controversial company at times, but its ability to sell high-quality products at market premiums successfully is something that should make any company envious -- and hopeful.
5. A bright future ahead
Shares of SunPower
AU Optronic's shares rose by only 5%, but there's a reason for that. The Taiwanese company commands an $8.6 billion market cap, so it's several times larger than California-based SunPower, with its $1.3 billion value. Both companies are going in as equal partners, but this deal will have a greater impact on SunPower.
The future's so bright that both companies have to wear shades.
Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and 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.