If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Disney wishes upon a Death Star
Disney (NYSE:DIS) is expanding its character portfolio.
The family entertainment giant is shelling out $4.05 billion in cash and stock to acquire Lucasfilm. It's a smart move. Disney has paid similar price tags for Pixar and Marvel, making each deal pay off by giving the units autonomy to keep creating and then enhancing the properties through its various divisions.
There will be plenty of cynics, but come on. The Star Wars franchise survived Jar Jar Binks and the Ewoks. This will turn out just fine.
After sci-fi failures of its own -- (cough, cough) John Carter and Mars Needs Moms -- Disney's picking up the most valuable brand in the niche. It's also slating the release of the seventh movie (yes, a new trilogy is now in the works) for 2015.
2. Stealing cars and taking names
After several quarters of teasing, the most anticipated release in years for Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) is finally on the way.
The developer and publisher of envelope-pushing video games announced that Grand Theft Auto V is now on track for a springtime release next year.
How firm is the date? Well, Take-Two has been known to push its slate around, but at least real money will begin exchanging hands soon. Pre-orders for the game will start next week.
In a move that will probably score it some style points, Take-Two chose to make this announcement on the same day that Need for Speed: Most Wanted -- a rival car-based game -- hit the market. Sure, Grand Theft Auto V is far more than just a driving game, but it's still a timely announcement.
3. Government Motors strikes again
Speaking of cars, General Motors (NYSE:GM) was flooring it on Wednesday after posting blowout quarterly results.
Surpassing Wall Street targets on both the top and bottom line will turn heads, and that's with its European operations still looking like a big fat mess. GM expects to record a massive loss of between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion in Europe this year, and it doesn't see a profit in the troubled region until a few more years.
Now, conspiracy theorists will argue that GM has conveniently put out market-thumping financial results a week before the contested election, where the government's bailout of GM has become a hot debate topic.
Let's grow up. Auto sales have been improving for several quarters now. GM bouncing back -- at least for now -- shouldn't come as a major surprise.
4. Amazon gets its head in the game
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) sells plenty of smartphones and tablets, but now it's marketing a game for those devices.
Amazon Game Studios introduced the availability of Air Patriots -- a tower defense strategy game with a new twist-- as a free download for iOS and Android devices. Obviously this also includes Amazon's own Kindle Fire.
This will be the leading online retailer's first mobile game. Three months ago it introduced Living Classics, its first Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) game. It now draws 140,000 monthly players. That's not as big as it sounds. The biggest Facebook games draw 200 to 300 times as many players.
However, Amazon establishing itself as a content creator has to start somewhere. It will also be a convenient arrow in its quiver if it should ever want to differentiate the Kindle Fire or the inevitable Amazon smartphone from the competition.
5. Baristas get busy
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is getting crowded again -- and that's a good thing.
The premium java chain posted encouraging quarterly results on Thursday. Revenue climbed 11% to $3.36 billion. That may have been just short of the $3.38 billion that analysts were forecasting, but it's still a solid showing. It's hard to scoff at a 6% spike in global comps, especially when closer to home we experienced a 7% increase in same-store sales in the Americas.
Things get even better on the way down to the bottom line, where net income of $0.36 a share is 24% ahead of the adjusted profit of $0.37 a share it rang up a year earlier.
Starbucks now expects to add 1,300 net new stores -- with more than half of them international openings -- in the new fiscal year.