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. Facebook calls shotgun
General Motors is ready to give Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) a test drive.
The automaker is testing a mobile advertising campaign on Facebook, marking the first time that GM is a marketing customer of the social networking giant since a very public parting of ways 11 months ago.
GM left Facebook at the worst possible time last year, just as the dot-com speedster was ready to go public. The move led investors to wonder if other advertisers would follow suit or if marketing in general through Facebook was effective.
GM's return isn't going to move the needle financially. GM was never a major part of Facebook's advertising revenue, just as Facebook was never a major component of GM's marketing budget. However, it's a symbolic return that validates the power of Facebook and the marketer enhancements that the site has initiated over the past year.
2. Solar gets brighter
It may be time to warm up to solar energy stocks again.
Shares of First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) soared after the solar panel maker provided surprisingly strong guidance for the year ahead. First solar now sees a profit of $4 to $4.50 a share on $3.8 billion to $4 billion in revenue. Wall Street was only holding out for earnings of $3.51 a share on $3.1 billion in revenue.
The stock jumped 45% on the upbeat outlook, even though some analysts weren't convinced. Between the call for gross margins declining this year and projections that some skeptics feel may be aggressive, analysts at Raymond James Financial and Pacific Crest made comments suggesting that the rally was an overreaction.
Well, given the way that solar energy plays have fallen out of favor over the past two years, it's easy to see why the market's getting giddy on good news.
3. Austin goes on a high Fiber diet
Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has picked out a second market for its ultra-high-speed Internet and TV service. Austin will be the city that follows Kansas City in getting wired for Google Fiber.
Offering online connectivity at speeds 100 times faster than traditional broadband for $70 a month is a deal, but the bigger bargain is the slower service that consumers can get for free if they pay $300 for a connection. There's also the $120 bundle of Fiber that includes high-def TV, a package that will give cable providers a run for their money.
This isn't necessarily a money-making opportunity for Google. Building out infrastructure doesn't come cheap, and offering ridiculous speeds at a low price isn't going to help Google expand its profit margins.
However, Google Fiber helps keep the broadband industry honest. It makes sure that the cable TV providers that just happen to double as regional Internet companies don't go crazy with price hikes and bandwidth caps that would price consumers out of the voracious Internet usage that Google needs to make a living.
4. LinkedIn has a Pulse reading
LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD.DL) is beefing up its publishing platform.
The leading career-oriented social networking website operator will pay roughly $90 million for Pulse, a fast-growing news reader and mobile content distribution platform.
LinkedIn crossed 200 million registrations earlier this year, and 155 million of those users are active in any given month. The challenge at LinkedIn is to keep people coming back to the site, even if they're not necessarily looking for work or to fill a job vacancy.
Pulse will help. There are already 30 million registered users of the popular platform that raises the bar in terms of delivering relevant news and information. Some may argue that LinkedIn is overpaying for the young Pulse, but the potential of expanding the platform's popularity across LinkedIn's user base is substantial.
It's a smart deal, because Pulse is worth far more to LinkedIn than it would be on its own.
5. More dashboards for satellite radio
Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) now has more skin in the used-car market.
The satellite radio monopoly struck a deal with Kia's stateside subsidiary to offer three free months of Sirius XM service to buyers of pre-owned vehicles that have factory-installed receivers.
Sirius XM has been striking deals like this for years, and it now has deals in place with 9,000 auto dealerships. It's a win-win. The car dealer gets a piece of the action, and Sirius XM gets to activate a dormant receiver. Even if the buyer of the secondhand car passes on converting into a paying customer after the trial runs out, Sirius XM will have contact information to reach out for a sale in the future.
Sirius XM is already in good shape, kicking off the year with 23.9 million subscribers. Given the incremental nature of its model, it can never have too many listeners.