This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

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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. Read between the lines
It took seven months, but Advanced Micro Devices (NYS: AMD) finally landed a new CEO.

AMD's new chief is Rory Read, an executive from PC maker Lenovo. The semiconductor giant had been run by an interim CEO since ousting its previous helmsman in January.

You have to like the Read hire. AMD is bringing in an outsider that will likely offer a fresh perspective to expand on AMD's already improving profitability. More importantly, AMD's new CEO has cut his teeth in mastering the Asian PC market.

2. See Renren run
Shares of Chinese social networking site Renren (NYS: RENN) traded as much as 11% higher on Wednesday -- before giving back most of those gains -- after announcing a partnership with Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) in China.

Renren and MSN China will engage integrate their social platforms in a strategic agreement.

Renren has been beaten into the single digits since going public earlier this year, so I understand the initial exhale of euphoria. However, the real winner here is Microsoft, which once again is partnering with a hometown dot-com fave in China. It had teamed up with Baidu (NAS: BIDU) last month to offer up its Bing results on English-language queries.

3. Settling an argument
The settlement is finally settled.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed objections to a class action settlement between Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) and subscribers who felt that the satellite radio provider didn't live up to its promise of keeping basic rates on ice for three years.

The May settlement seemed to be a victory for Sirius XM, with the media giant simply footing no more than $13 million in plaintiff legal costs and offering up negligible service credits to disgruntled consumers.

The key takeaway here is that now there is nothing holding Sirius XM back from going through with its plans to increase rates by early next year. Testing its pricing elasticity isn't necessarily a winner move, but the potential to expand on its already profitable ways is too juicy to ignore.

4. Cracking open Pandora's box
Things are starting to look up for Pandora (NYS: P) , as the music discovery site posted strong quarterly results yesterday.

Revenue soared 117% to $67 million. Earnings, adjusted for stock-based compensation and costs related to a conversion of warrants, clocked in at $0.02 a share. Analysts were tuning in to hear breakeven results with $60.3 million on the top line.

Pandora's growing user base tuned in for 1.8 billion hours of music. The free ad-supported app continues to take off, and mobile advertising now accounts for half of total ad revenue.

The profitability won't last. Pandora is guiding toward a small adjusted deficit for the current quarter and for all of 2011. However, the market is already expecting that. Pandora's stock may have been overhyped when it went public at $16 two months ago, but the fundamentals are improving at a time when the shares can still be had for less than June's IPO buyers.

5. Zillow talk
Residential real estate may be dead, but at least one related website is making a killing in this market.

Zillow (NYS: Z) posted strong financials in its first quarter as a public company. Revenue climbed 116% -- neck and neck with Pandora's heady top-line growth -- and it too squeezed out a welcome quarterly profit. Zillow has now posted four profitable quarters on an adjusted basis, but this was the first time that the site was in the black on a reported basis as well.

Zillow's popularity during an obvious lull in the residential housing market is intriguing. Are folks checking in often to get free and arguably rough estimates for what their homes are worth, or are Realtors simply flocking to the site because it's the one place where homeowners and prospective homeowners like to be these days? Either way, Zillow wins.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Baidu and Microsoft, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is an optimist at every turn. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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