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.

What: Shares of auto-parts manufacturer Standard Motor Products (NYSE: SMP) raced ahead more than 13%, as investors reacted to better-than-expected earnings.  

So What: Earnings from resurgent U.S. auto giant Ford (NYSE: F) show that there's at least some life in the new car market. However, for Standard Motor Products -- which sells its aftermarket parts through outlets such as Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP) and AutoZone (NYSE: AZO) -- aging cars and dealership closures boosted business in the third quarter. Total sales in the quarter were $228 million, while earnings per share from continuing operations totaled $0.43. Analysts expected $211 million in sales and $0.29 in per-share profit.

Now What: After years of lackluster performance and struggles under a heavy debt load, Standard Motor Products hopes that it's turning over a new leaf. The company's balance sheet looks better than it has in years, and recent results have looked fairly promising. Investors, however, will want to make sure that the company keeps steering in the right direction.

Interested in more info on Standard Motor Products? Add it to your watchlist.

Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool’s disclosure policy assures you no Wookiees were harmed in the making of this article.