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. Performance art at Pandora
Pandora (NYSE:P) surprised the market by announcing that it was acquiring a terrestrial radio station on Tuesday, but it had a good reason.
Pandora pays higher royalty rates per track than radio station operators running music-streaming websites, and its legal counsel argues that snapping up South Dakota's KXMZ-FM puts it on the same footing as 16 of the 20 largest Internet radio services that currently pay lower mechanical royalties on the streaming side because they also happen to own FM or AM stations.
Pandora believes that the move will save what amounts to just 1% of its revenue, but when you're darting in and out of profitability the way that the dot-com speedster has over the years, it should make a material difference if it pans out.
At the very least, this stunt will draw attention to the unfair ways that royalties for streaming websites are calculated.
2. Netflix has its own avatars
You can't stream Avatar on Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), but soon you will be able to stream with your avatar.
The leading video service revealed plans to roll out individual profiles this summer.
Netflix knows that families and roommates are sharing Netflix accounts, and the company's cool with that. It allows two simultaneous streams with its basic $7.99-a-month plan. It recently introduced a plan for $11.99 a month that provides as many as four streams at the same time.
The problem with different family members on the same account is that it messes up Netflix's personalized recommendations. That's where individual profiles comes in. By clicking on the appropriate avatar, a user will make sure to receive truly personalized picks.
Yes, Netflix can get better -- and this should benefit both retention and encouraging subscriber families to upgrade to the $11.99-a-month plan.
3. Wal-Mart is no longer kryptonite for trendy teens
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) has historically struggled to get fashion-forward shoppers to visit the world's largest retailer. This isn't the "cheap chic" discount department store chain. No one calls Wal-Mart, "Wal-May."
However, teens and young adults probably had to begrudgingly work their way into Wal-Mart to buy advance screenings to Man of Steel premieres that screened in more than 2,700 theaters on Thursday night. Tickets to last night's Superman reboot were only being sold in the electronics department of Wal-Mart's stores.
Did the stunt get the jaded youth to reconsider their opinions of the discounter? Even if it didn't, Wal-Mart gets another crack at the moviegoers. The tickets include voucher codes for exclusive content when Man of Steel hits retail DVD, Blu-ray, and digital release in a few months.
4. High Five
Many discounters -- Wal-Mart included -- are struggling these days.
Shoppers who traded down during the economic slump are starting to trade back up, yet the poor who discounters rely on during times of economic expansion aren't exactly playing along.
One discounter that is holding up well is Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE). The fast-growing retailer sells fashionable clothing, accessories, and gadgets for $5 or less. It's a model that's resonating with young shoppers and the retailer's stock popped 4% higher yesterday on better-than-expected quarterly results.
Net sales rose 33% and Five Below topped bottom-line expectations in reversing a year-ago loss to post a profit of $0.05 a share. Five Below also raised its guidance for the entire fiscal year. A few discounters lowered their outlooks earlier this earnings season.
The search giant is reportedly shelling out about $1.1 billion for the deal.
Google has plenty of money, but more importantly it keeps Waze out of the grubby hands of other rumored suitors. The ability to effectively provide real-time traffic and serve up relevant local ads will fit right into Google's strengths, but it also could've really benefited the rivals trying to catch up to Big G.