OK, what's wrong with this picture? After three straight winning sessions to close out last week, the markets roared forward again today: The Dow gained 378 points, and the Nasdaq, S&P 500, and FOOL 50 had similar 4%-5% gains.

Most of the financial media will be guessing whether this marks the start of a new bull market, or if it's just another false bear rally. We would, too, but we don't know the answer. And neither does anyone else, frankly.

Money manager David Dreman recently challenged a writer to show him a successful, consistent market timer. "Not one of them has ever survived," he said.

And you know what? He's right. So rather than trying to time entry and exit points, we'll hope for the best, expect the worst, and stick with our Foolish investing principles.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Signs of a Rebound

When times are bad, one of the first belt-tightening measures for many companies is slashing advertising budgets. Conversely, when a rebound seems near, you can expect ad spending to pick up. And thus it's interesting to look at recent earnings reports from the nation's largest newspaper publishers.

Today, Gannett(NYSE: GCI) matched estimates with a profit of $0.66 a share in the third quarter, with revenue rising 4.2% to $1.58 billion. The company publishes USA Today and 93 other daily papers and owns 22 television stations. Thanks to political campaigning in September, TV advertising was very strong during the quarter, rising 24%. Newspaper ad revenue, however, edged up just 2%.

Aside from the political spending, CEO Douglas McCorkindale indicated advertising was beginning to rebound across the board for Gannett's higher-rated television stations. On the newspaper side, local ad spending was up 3%, but national classified sales dropped 2%. And, if USA Today is any indication, some of the hardest-hit sectors aren't yet seeing daylight. The paper's third-quarter results "continue to reflect, in part, lower demand for financial and technology-related advertising."

E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) , like Gannett, has a stable of television interests that helped boost its third-quarter earnings. Meanwhile, Knight Ridder(NYSE: KRI), the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher behind Gannett, saw a slight drop in revenue. Finally, Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones(NYSE: DJ), heavily reliant on financial and technology advertising, saw a sharp decrease in profits.

In summary, it appears smaller, localized businesses are beginning to accelerate ad spending, along with retailers and auto makers nationally. But while these areas see better times ahead, most of the tech and financial sectors don't, and are maintaining defensive postures.

Quote of Note

"The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future." -- Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002)

Debt Rising for Retirees

College kids, stranded travelers, and Sex and the City stars aren't the only ones that consider a credit card their lifeline. The silver-haired set relies on plastic now more than ever.

A decade ago, just 18% of Americans over the age of 65 carried an outstanding balance on credit cards, according to SRI Consulting Business Intelligence. Today, nearly half of all card-holding seniors carry unpaid balances month to month.

Though their debt levels lag behind the junior set, the amount of money the elderly borrows is creeping upward. The average credit card balance for senior citizens is around $2,000, compared to the average balance of $3,224 carried by whippersnappers ages 25 to 34. And it's only a matter of time before their debt levels mirror one another. Credit Card Nation author Robert Manning told The Mercury News that the use of credit by senior citizens will eventually be no different from that of the general population.

It's not keggers or kicky Prada pumps driving Grams and Gramps into debt. Necessities such as prescription drugs and groceries -- and even doling out money to struggling relatives -- are behind the rising rate of debt among the elderly. With health-care costs on the rise, and interest rates on income-preserving investments such as CDs on the downslide, items that were once well within their fixed-income budgets have become unaffordable. And the picture doesn't get any clearer as the aging population lives longer, outliving their retirement savings.

For those whose income-earning years are but a fuzzy memory, it can be hard to find ways to cut back -- or earn more. And the temptations of borrowing are ripe -- especially if you own your home and have a good, long-standing credit history. Still, the same rules of credit management we preach to the young apply to senior citizens:

Ask mom, er, Junior for a loaner -- or consider other sources to supplement your income.

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Wrestling for Answers

These are the dark days of wrestling. When World WrestlingEntertainment(NYSE: WWE) CEO Vince McMahon kicked off last month's annual meeting, he tried to lift somber spirits by announcing that the shareholder event was not a wake. He asked for the lights to be turned up, but even under brighter lights, the media company still can't find what it's looking for.

Last night, the company revealed it will post a loss for its fiscal second quarter. While the wrestling promoter faults a litigation charge for the shortfall, it can't deny it has real problems that need to be addressed.

The same platform that launched careers is now caught between The Rock and a hard place. Turnout at its live events and television ratings have been weak. The pay-per-view monster might as well be branded pay-per-few these days.

With the company expecting to report no more than $390 million in revenue in 2002, it will mark the second consecutive year the top line has dipped. Earnings will fall for the third year in a row, too, as it pegs fiscal year operating income to come in between $27 million and $29 million.

But if the temptation here is to tag out and short the living daylights out of the stock, consider that WWE still sports a sparkling balance sheet, with $4 a share in cash. It has been trimming its overhead in recent quarters, too. While Raw on Viacom's(NYSE: VIA) TNN and Smackdown may have seen better days, WWE prides itself on reinvention. As it continues to build up its content library, don't bet it will make an XFL-esque wager on nostalgia to bring it back into favor.

Are the McMahons clever enough to script a turnaround? That remains to be seen, but don't call the Undertaker just yet.

Discussion Board of the Day: World Wrestling Entertainment

Can the McMahons catch lightning in a bottle again? Does ECW hold the key to the company's revival, or will it go in a new direction? All this and more -- in the World Wrestling Entertainment discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Quick Takes

Move over General Electric(NYSE: GE), there's a new major in town. Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) is back as the owner of the country's largest market capitalization. It's been a strange trip, as the company has spent the last couple of years mired in litigation and a corporate spending meltdown. Along the way, both Cisco(Nasdaq: CSCO) and GE lapped the software giant, but their reigns as king of the market-cap hill proved fleeting.

Don't lose your launch over this, but AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL) is rolling out its 8.0 incarnation of its flagship America Online service. While we all hope the latest version addresses many of the online service's shortcomings, such as an effective spam-mail filter, it's a critical release as the company tries to keep its 35 million subscribers happy and contracted.

There will be "No More Tears" at Johnson & Johnson(NYSE: JNJ), as the consumer brand and pharmaceuticals juggernaut posted third-quarter profits of $0.60 a share. That came in a penny ahead of Wall Street's expectations. The top line was equally impressive, coming in at $9.1 billion.

You can drive a Chevy to the levy, but the Chevy's not dry. General Motors(NYSE: GM) sped past analysts' profit targets, as the country's leading car maker earned $1.24 a share before charges in its third quarter. That was a full $0.25 more than consensus estimates. While most figured that tempting financing offers would help the cause, the jury was still out as to whether the American driver would be up to big-ticket purchases at a time when money was tight.

Airline stock pessimism may be losing a bit of altitude, as Delta(NYSE: DAL) reported a narrower loss than expected. That doesn't mean all is cheery for the troubled airline, though the company is trimming away at its overhead, with another $1.3 billion in savings over the next two years to be realized through fleet reductions and pushing out some scheduled Boeing(NYSE: BA) deliveries of new aircraft.

There's greenery in the forest. On the heels of strength in its antidepressants Lexapro and Celexa, Forest Labs(NYSE: FRX) and its fiscal performance are proving to be the ultimate antidepressants. Second-quarter profits shot up 79%, as revenue soared by 41% to come in at $544.6 million. The results were even better than the company had pre-announced two weeks earlier, when it revealed that earnings would come in about 30% higher than Wall Street's numbers.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com: Amazon responds to Tom Jacobs' ESO evaluation.... Matt Richey investigates more small caps showing strong valuation, in Part 2 of his series.... Keeping your money safe for retirement, in Fool's School.... The Fool Community discusses Kindergarten options.... And the Post of the Day: Philip Morris.

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim