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. Henry Ford goes to college
In a win-win partnership, Ford (NYS: F) will be sending hundreds of cars to the more than 250 university campuses that offer Zipcar's (NAS: ZIP) auto-sharing service.

Ford is emphasizing the fuel-efficient models of its Escape and Focus cars in the deal, hoping that it impresses the carless students enough to make Ford their choice when they graduate to actual automobile ownership.

Sure, there's irony here. Zipcar markets the car-sharing experience on its many advantages over actually owning a car. Zipcar's more than 600,000 members can check out cars by the hour or day without having to worry about insurance, gasoline, or maintenance.

Is there a mixed message here? Nope. Zipcar won't be for all college students when they leave campus, especially those who don't flock to densely populated metropolitan markets where car-sharing is practical. Ford's presence -- and providing discounted memberships and rentals for the time being -- is a smart way for the carmaker to show off its high-tech vehicles.

2. Panda on the run
In a first for DreamWorks Animation (NAS: DWA) , the studio is making its two Kung Fu Panda films available for purchase as Web-served streams in China. DreamWorks Animation is teaming up with Youku.com (NYS: YOKU) , the country's leading video-streaming website.

It's a good move for Youku. It rolled out Youku Premium last year in beta, hoping its growing audience would be open to paying for individual streams of popular movies. It hasn't really moved the needle, since all but $1.2 million of Youku's revenue in its latest quarter came from the display advertising it places on its free ad-supported content.

Turning to kid-friendly content should help, especially if parents want to set a good example in a country where piracy is still a major problem.

3. Androids keep landing everywhere
Who cares if Google (NAS: GOOG) has to pay billions to protect its patents? The Android is hot.

Android is now the operating system of choice for 40% of smartphone owners, according to research tracker Nielsen. The market leader continues to pad its lead over both the iPhone and the BlackBerry.

Google does provide Android for free to handset manufacturers, so it's not a surprise to see hardware makers and wireless carriers flock to Android over closed and costly ecosystems elsewhere. However, the fact that consumers are on board is everything for Big G.

4. Death and taxes
States have been hoping to get Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) and other online retailers to collect state-level sales taxes for years. In most cases, Amazon's response is cruel yet swift: It boots affiliate marketers residing in the contested state and it closes down any distribution centers that give the legal appearance of having a presence in the state.

Nobody wins in that scenario, especially the revenue-hungry states. Amazon winds up effectively skirting the legislations, while also either putting people out of work or giving affiliate marketers less reportable income.

Amazon's trying a new tactic in California. It is promising to build several distribution centers in the heavily populated state -- and create 1,000 jobs -- if California backs away from the sales tax collecting requirement, at least temporarily.

State lawmakers are unlikely to go for it, but it's a smart move on Amazon's part since it frames the government as the ones responsible for 1,000 fewer jobs in California at a time when they can sorely be used.

5. Gamers get social
Electronic Arts
(NAS: ERTS) isn't just in the game; it's in the social game. The country's second largest video game company is making some major headway with Sims Social, now with a whopping 24.6 million active users on Facebook alone.

Sure, that may be a small number compared to the 34.8 million active Facebook users tending to their virtual harvests in Zynga's FarmVille, but keep in mind that EA is actually the small fry here.

Zynga's proposed market valuation has been as high as $20 billion this summer. EA clocks in at just a third of that princely sum in capitalization -- and it also has its bread-and-butter console games bringing home the die-hard gamer bacon.

EA wins.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Zipcar, and Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford, DreamWorks Animation, Google, Zipcar, and Amazon.com. 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, except for Zipcar and Ford. 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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