The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished the week on a positive note Friday, adding 58 points, or 0.4%, to end at 16,323, as new data showed consumer income and consumer spending both ticked higher in February. Personal income last month was up 3.1% from February 2013, while consumer spending rose 3% in the same period.
The consumer services sector advanced today on the news, but lucrative industries attract competitors, and competitors are popping up like whack-a-moles in today's economy. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , GameStop (NYSE: GME ) , and Sirius XM Holdings (NASDAQ: SIRI ) are each fending off competition in their own way. Each method is either bold, risky, or ingenious.
McDonald's made a bold move today to combat Taco Bell's brave excursion into the breakfast market. Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands, now markets to early birds, with breakfast menu items like "Waffle Tacos" and "A.M. Crunchwraps." Fearing that some people may find these items appealing, McDonald's is giving out free coffee during breakfast hours between March 31 and April 13. Shares added 1.1% today on the news.
Lastly, Sirius XM Holdings, which added 1% today, has responded ingeniously to burgeoning competition from the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and even Apple. First of all, Sirius is already differentiated from these services, offering its own exclusive content not found anywhere else. Beyond this, Sirius has an ace up its sleeve in Agero, a "connected vehicle services business" it acquired for $530 million in November. My colleague Michael Olsen describes it as a "smartphone and operating system in your car's dashboard," and cites it as a major reason he thinks Sirius will outperform the market going forward. Agero, by allowing apps like Pandora to work within it, actually becomes more valuable as a platform itself! Clever stuff, Sirius.
GameStop faces much stiffer competition from the largest retailer in the world: Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will begin buying and selling used video games, a niche business that GameStop has dominated for years. Shares got pummeled last week on the news, and took another hit yesterday after its 2014 earnings forecast disappointed. But GameStop stock surged today, rallying 8.8% on a peppy analyst outlook. Analysts and earnings aside, the company is proactively responding to increased competition by shifting its business model, devoting capital to open hundreds of stores focused on selling phones, electronics, and wearable devices. Risky, but potentially rewarding.
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