New York, April 30th ( - The S&P 500 put forth a decent toward booking a gain for April, rallying four consecutive days prior to the last trading day of the month. But on that last trading, U.S. stocks fell modestly and those declines were enough to send the broad market index into the red for April, a month that is normally kind to equities.

When the dust settled on the fourth month of 2012, less than 25 stocks, or 5% of the S&P 500's total constituency, had gained 10% or more on the month. Some of the big gainers are easy to understand, starting with...

Sunoco (NYSE: SUN):

The East Coast refining giant had been showing some signs of life late in April, but only the companies' executives, the investment bankers, the lawyer and a higher power could have seen this coming: On the last day of the month, Sunoco surged almost 20.5% after Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP) agreed to acquire the company for $5.3 billion, a deal that values Sunoco at $50.13 per share. The acquisition includes nearly 8,000 miles of pipeline, as well as 4,900 gas stations in 24 Eastern states, according to the Associated Press. News of the deal was good enough to send Sunoco up more than 28% in April.

Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE):

The online travel reservations firm got plenty of help on its way to a gain of more than 28% in April. Sparks behind the Expedia fire included the following: Positive sentiment toward Internet stocks, an improving U.S. economy, still decent consumer data and the company's own solid earnings report that was bolstered by impressive hotel bookings. Expedia's April returns were about five times those offered by rival Priceline (NASDAQ: PCLN) during the month. (NASDAQ: AMZN):

Speaking of Internet stocks, Seattle-based Amazon added over 13% in April, but practically all of that was accrued on Friday April 27, the day after the e-commerce giant Amazon reported net income of $130 million or $0.28 per share, compared to $201 million or $0.44 per share, crushing the seven cents Wall Street expected. Net sales for the quarter were up 34% to $13.19 versus $9.86 billion in the comparable period. Amazon's guidance was iffy at best, but the shares still surged 16%.

Range Resources (NYSE: RRC):

Quiet as it was kept, natural gas price and equities started to perk up in late April. That may be one reason why Range Resources found its way to a gain of nearly 16% on the month, a move that was solidified by a 4.3% gain on volume that was better than double the daily average on April's final trading day. Keep an eye on Range Resources because it has been frequently mentioned as a takeover target before.

Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE: COG):

And speaking of natural gas, there is the case of Cabot, which jumped more than 10% for the month of April, with all of those gains coming over the last few days of the month. About 95% of Cabot's first-quarter production was natural gas, but the company is at least making strides toward increasing its oil production. The company has 61,000 acres in the oil-rich Eagle Ford Shale, giving the company a real chip to play if wants to sell itself or raise cash.

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Tickers in this Article: SUN, ETP, EXPE, PCLN, AMZN, RRC, COG

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