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. Giving satellite radio some credit
Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) is becoming less of a credit risk. Standard & Poor's is upgrading the satellite radio provider's corporate debt rating -- from BB- to BB -- as another sign of its fundamental viability.

Sirius XM was on the brink of filing for bankruptcy two years ago, but now it's just a couple of notches away from investment grade. This isn't really hard to believe. Satellite radio is one of the more scalable businesses given its low variable costs, and Sirius XM has been generating positive earnings and free cash flow for several quarters.

2. The robots are taking over
You don't need to buy an iRobot (NAS: IRBT) Scooba to see the company mop up Wall Street's prognosticators, but the consumer and military robotics probably wouldn't mind the extra sale.

iRobot came through with another blowout quarter Tuesday night.

Revenue climbed 28% to $120.4 million in the third quarter, and adjusted earnings grew even faster. iRobot posted a profit of $0.38 a share if we back out a one-time tax benefit. Analysts were only expecting adjusted net income of $0.26 a share, essentially flat with the $0.27 a share profit it posted a year earlier.

This shouldn't spring up on investors anymore. Something that has become evident in watching iRobot lately is that analysts have no idea how well the robotics company's income statement is doing. iRobot has blown past the pros on a quarterly basis for more than two years. Try on the past year for size.

 

EPS Estimate

EPS

Surprise

Q3 2011

$0.26

$0.38

46%

Q2 2011

$0.21

$0.29

38%

Q1 2011

$0.23

$0.27

17%

Q4 2010

$0.14

$0.26

86%

Source: Thomson Reuters.

iRobot naturally revised its 2011 guidance sharply higher, but something tells me that analysts still aren't going to catch up to the speedy robot.

3. The HP weigh
After a few weeks of threatening to file for a divorce, Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) has decided to keep its PC business.

It's the right thing to do. HP is expanding into the higher-margin realm of business services, but it doesn't mean that its low-margin desktops and laptops have to go. Whether HP was seeking to spin off the unit or secretly woo a buyer, it's still a valuable component of HP's brand with businesses and consumers.

PC sales have been stagnant -- especially in this country -- but HP has been gaining market share. There's no point in bailing on the box now.

4. Mr. Softy hits the Finnish line
Nokia (NYS: NOK) is finally putting Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) money where its mouth is. The world's largest handset maker unveiled its first smartphones fueled by Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile operating system.

Nokia agreed to champion Microsoft's platform earlier this year in a deal that Nokia valued in the "billions" at the time.

Don't cry for Microsoft. It's good for the money, and paying a popular player good money to promote a Microsoft platform has helped Bing so far. Why can't this strategy work in mobile, where Microsoft is far behind the competition?

Microsoft's timing with Nokia couldn't be better, as corporate America is getting fed up with Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) after a series of outages and uninspiring product rollouts. If Microsoft can take a good bite out of the business market in mobile, it won't feel so bad that Android and iOS are eating up the consumer end.

5. The big picture gets even bigger
This has been a rough year at the box office, but you can't tell if you go by IMAX's (NYS: IMAX) quarterly results this week.

IMAX's shares climbed 12% yesterday on the report, as revenue climbed 32% to $67.5 million. Adjusted earnings also inched higher, and that was with a material currency hit given the weakened Canadian dollar.

Fundamentally speaking, IMAX has never been better. It is revising its theater installations for the current quarter higher. It now expects to add between 49 and 59 IMAX additions during the quarter. Closing out the year with as many as 500 commercial multiplex theaters worldwide represents a 30% boost over the past year.

As bad as things have been for theater operators this year, premium cinema is clearly not dead.  

If you want to see if these companies continue to do the smart thing, track them through My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of iRobot, IMAX, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended 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 calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for HP. 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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