Barnes & Noble Bounces Back; TiVo Stumbles Into Thanksgiving

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Rising for a fifth straight day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) set another all-time closing record Wednesday -- just in time for investors to give thanks for a raging bull market. Wall Street applauded steady improvement in the labor market, as initial jobless claims dipped slightly last week, falling from 326,000 to 316,000. German politicians also progressed toward a deal aimed at jump-starting the economy, which bodes well for Europe's tenuous recovery. By day's end the Dow was up 24 points, or 0.2%, to end at 16,097, a new record close.

Though food is surely a dominant theme in American households on the eve of Thanksgiving, fast food isn't quite so relevant. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) stock, in fact, ended as the Dow's weakest performer, slumping 1.2% today. It's tough to remain the hottest item on the menu for long in the fast food industry, and although McDonald's remains the biggest in the business, its competition boasts juicier growth potential. The Battle of the Burger is increasingly being waged overseas, where Burger King Worldwide and Yum! Brands wield growing influence. You wouldn't think a company called Burger King would audaciously enter the largely Hindu country of India -- given the Hindu belief in bovine sacredness -- but Burger King is doing just that. The gloves are off, Ronald.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) , which knows a thing or two about fierce competition, saw shares rebound sharply from yesterday's 6% slump. The stock added 8% Wednesday as Barnes & Noble stepped up its Black Friday discounts to attract customers and undercut rivals. The bookseller will offer its Nook Simple Touch e-reader for just $39, as the company scrambles to make sure it doesn't go down the path of its defunct former colleague, Borders. While my own colleague Michael Lewis cheers the company's ability to stay afloat and even turn a profit in its most recent quarter, the long-term viability of the business remains uncertain.

Finally, TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO  ) stock shed 4.4% today, despite beating earnings estimates and forecasting sales growth between 26% and 29% in its current quarter. TiVo shareholders, reasoning from a long-term perspective, weren't crazy about the company's growing reliance on cable partners in the recent report. The way people consume entertainment is beyond a tipping point, and TiVo must figure out a way to remain relevant in an age of online programming, either that or risk running reruns of horror shows for its investors. 

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