The Dow (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) both gained better than 1% today.

The macro view: It's a tough market out there, even for the pros. Europe's largest hedge fund launch of 2010 is shuttering. Edoma Partners, launched by the former head of Goldman Sachs's vaunted Principal Strategies Group, Pierre-Henri Flamand, was down 7% between its inception in November 2010 and the end of last month. Flamand was frank about the reasons for his decision, telling the Wall Street Journal:

There's close to no corporate activity. I'd rather be honest with investors because I don't think I can make money in this environment.

Edoma was focused on event-driven investing, which seeks to profit from corporate events, including M&A, spinoffs and restructurings.

The micro view: Professional networking site LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD.DL) reported third quarter earnings per share of $0.22, handily beating even the most optimistic estimate -- $0.16 -- from among the twenty-two analysts who cover the company. As it did last quarter, the company raised its guidance for full-year revenues, this time to a range of $939 million to $944 million, up from $915 million to $925 million. There aren't all too many companies doing that in this environment -- that's what you call a secular growth story, folks. If you want another great example of that, click here to receive our free report, The Only Stock You Need to Profit From the NEW Technology Revolution.

Still, secular growth isn't the only way to beat estimates or, for that matter, the only way to make money as an investor: A 'beat' is a beat, and beating depressed expectations will do the trick just as well. That's the story at turnaround/ insurer American International Group (NYSE:AIG), which earned $1.13 per share in the third quarter versus a consensus estimate of $0.86. AIG has been a popular selection of multiple high-profile value investors, including Larry Berkowitz of Fairholme Funds.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.