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It's Halloween, and the retail scene plays host to plenty of things that go bump in the night. One of these monsters could be lurking in your holdings right now, poised to devour your hard-earned portfolio.
These retail wretches could prove a blood-curdlingly dangerous deal for investors -- or just a B-movie kind of sadly bad. Either way, beware!
- Flee from J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) ! Can this almost-ran retailer really survive competing with the likes of Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) and Target (NYSE: TGT ) in the hunt for budget-conscious consumers? Investors should run as fast as they can.
- Here's a bloody mess in the making. RadioShack (NYSE: RSH ) faces formidable challenges; if a downturn in smartphone sales arrives, with little else to fall back on, the company could get gutted. Like Saks and many others, takeover rumors skulked around RadioShack earlier this year, but the bigger, creepier mystery might be what kind of sicko would dare to buy it.
- Is there a lurking menace in the back room? Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF ) has had a terrifying time staging a turnaround. Last quarter's tidings of falling gross margins and an inventory buildup of 47% on a per-square foot basis suggest more harrowing times ahead for Abercrombie investors.
- Beware the living dead booksellers. Borders Group (NYSE: BGP ) and Barnes & Noble have a hair-raising future on their hands as they fight not only one another and discount retailers that peddle books, but formidable rivals like Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) in both physical books and e-books. The future looks frightening, with little chance for a happy ending.
Not-so-little shops of horrors could be as close as your local mall, shopping center, or even your portfolio. Keep your eyes peeled and do your homework before making any rash judgments about the retail stocks you embrace. Otherwise, you -- and your money -- could be eaten alive!
Happy Halloween, Fools! Feel free to put your own Halloween stock picks in the comment boxes below. Which retail stocks scare you?
Looking for additional scary stories? We've got what you need in our Halloween special series, Avoid These 8 Investing Horror Shows.