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Today's 3 Best Stocks

By Sean Williams - Apr 17, 2013 at 5:15PM

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A roundup of the day's best performers within the S&P 500 and what their moves mean for investors.

The whipsaw action continues for the broad-based S&P 500 (^GSPC 1.49%) with its third-straight move of greater than 1%. Today, renewed commodity weakness, as well as the weight of the world again falling on Apple's (AAPL 2.70%) shoulders, helped push the market decisively lower.

Commodities continue to be a talking (and selling) point for investors, with oil falling another $2 and gold down modestly yet again. This could be on the heels of a Tuesday update from the International Monetary Fund, which lowered its global growth forecast to 3.3% this year, down from 3.5%. Slower growth could mean less oil and metal demand, which is weighing heavily on commodities as a whole.

The big drag today, however, was tech giant Apple, which dipped below $400 per share at one point because of a weak preliminary revenue figure from one of its suppliers, Cirrus Logic. Cirrus' preliminary revenue of $206.9 million in the fourth quarter came in modestly shy of the $210.2 million Wall Street had been looking for. But, more importantly, Cirrus gets about 70% of its revenue from Apple, so it could signify upcoming weakness in iPhone and iPad sales for Apple's upcoming second-quarter report.

Lumped together, this news made for another miserable day, with the S&P 500 falling 22.56 points (-1.43%) to close at 1,552.01. Weakness aside, three companies managed to outperform to the upside.

Leading the charge higher was discount retailer Dollar General (DG 2.58%), which advanced 2.8% on a very weak day following a reiteration of "buy" from yesterday. Dollar General is the type of company that will benefit from higher taxes and delayed tax refunds because it offers shoppers a clearly defined discount and no-hassle price points. There's always a concern that food inflation could creep back into the picture and stifle margin growth, but for now everything appears to be working in its favor.

Coming in a close second was Abbott Laboratories (ABT 1.06%), which rallied 2.4% after reporting its first-quarter results. For the quarter, net sales increased just shy of 2% to $5.38 billion as adjusted earnings rose 5% to $0.42 from $0.40 in the year-ago period. Revenue was about $30 million short of estimates, but EPS came in $0.01 above target, providing the impetus to send Abbott's shares higher. Perhaps the most intriguing factor from an optimists' perspective was that more than 40% of total sales came from fast-growing emerging markets during the quarter, giving the company ample opportunity to continue growing.

Finally, toy and game maker Mattel (MAT 1.60%) added on 1.9% following better-than-expected first-quarter earnings results. For the quarter, revenue rose 7% to $995.6 million and EPS jumped by 450% to $0.11 -- a clean $0.02 ahead of the Street's expectations. The company's iconic Barbie and Fisher-Price brands' sales slumped once again, but its American Girl brand more than made up the difference with a 32% increase in sales to $100.5 million. With a current yield of 3.3%, there are plenty of reasons to take Mattel's growth quite seriously.

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Stocks Mentioned

S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,959.34 (1.49%) $57.98
Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$141.31 (2.70%) $3.72
Abbott Laboratories Stock Quote
Abbott Laboratories
$114.44 (1.06%) $1.20
Mattel, Inc. Stock Quote
Mattel, Inc.
$23.51 (1.60%) $0.37
Dollar General Corporation Stock Quote
Dollar General Corporation
$192.45 (2.58%) $4.85

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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