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Woe is thee, economy
The news isn't getting any better on the economic front. Even some of the darlings are starting to show signs of recessionary wear and tear. In this past week alone:
- Consumer electronics giant Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) talked down its holiday quarter, even as many of its smaller rivals have been scaling back or closing up.
- Discount department-store giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) even lowered its fourth-quarter outlook, despite being typically considered a recession-resistant retailer.
- Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) has been in a slump for a couple of quarters now, but when you hear the latte-pouring behemoth discuss earnings scenarios in which comps fall by 2% to 7% in 2009, the room gets chillier than a Mocha Frappuccino.
No one expects this to be a banner quarter -- well, no one in their right mind, that is. Consumers will be the ultimate winners as restaurant chains and retailers slash prices to drum up foot traffic; only investors will likely feel the pain. Quality companies are hacking away at their own fundamentals, justifying (in part) the market's markdown over the past year. Even a company like Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , which provides the chips that power most of today's computers, has slashed its near-term guidance.
When the scorecard becomes more about who is losing less than who is winning more, you know you're in for a looonng winter.
Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Now that the merger is complete, Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) posted results from its first quarter as a combined company. XM and Sirius together grew revenue by 16% during the period. The company's net operating loss narrowed substantially. There are plenty of demons to exorcise in the near term -- like several huge debt-repayment speed bumps next year, and a shrinking conversion rate -- but financial improvement is a blessing at a time when creditors may decide the company's fate next year.
- Captain America is ready to take orders. Veteran movie director Joe Johnston has been tapped to bring Marvel's (NYSE: MVL ) to the silver screen. Marvel settling on a director for a self-funded flick isn't typically news, but given the company's blowout success with Iron Man earlier this year, the 2011 release can't come too soon. Johnston's directorial credits include Jumanji, The Rocketeer, and Jurassic Park III.
Until next week, I remain,