The $600 and $1,200 rebate checks going out to tens of millions of qualifying families -- part of the expanded $150 billion stimulus package -- are coming.
Where are they going?
That's what investors should be asking. Obviously, a lot of those checks will go to paying down debt and putting food on the table. However, even with recessionary fears kicking up in earnest, it's undeniable that many of those checks will be seen as found money, just looking to be spent.
Some companies are better-positioned than others to cash in on the discretionary-spending angle behind those rebate checks. Let's quickly take a look at five public companies that should take advantage of the disbursements.
Great Wolf Resorts
No matter what you may think of the enormous indoor waterparks housed inside every Great Wolf Lodge, they're magnets for young families. Kids love to park themselves under the thunderous, tumbling water. Teens love the body slides and surf simulators. Parents love to float gingerly along the lazy rivers or sip cool drinks in warm Jacuzzis.
Great Wolf isn't cheap. A family can burn though that entire $1,200 rebate check over the course of an extended weekend at the self-contained resort. However, you have to love the likely timing of the rebate checks. Hitting pockets just as school years come to a close, Great Wolf's lodges may seem like ideal places to escape from the winter chills, but they're at their busiest when school lets out for summer vacation.
You want an iPod, an iPhone, or a Mac. You do, even if you tell yourself that you don't. You just don't have a reason to splurge. The rebate checks may be that reason. A $1,200 check would get gobbled up by an entry-level Mac, though the $600 checks will be more than enough to grab the costliest of iPhones and iPods -- with money to spare to load up either one with digitally delivered goodies through Apple's iTunes Music Store.
I'm not going to suggest that those rebate checks will turn the Apple TV media hub from a dud to a stud, but Apple doesn't need to be perfect. Coming off a disappointing quarter -- a mortal rarity for the company in recent years -- Apple can certainly use the push to restore its luster as a growth-stock darling in 2008. Found money can go a long way toward helping Apple find its way back.
It's anyone's guess what the hot consumer electronics, CDs, and DVDs will be. It's a safer bet to count on Amazon to deliver the hotness. The convenience of shopping from home and home delivery -- paired up with Amazon's attractive pricing and free shipping offers -- will keep Amazon's head above the recessionary waters.
Satellite radio has been a forgotten niche in recent years. A hefty rebate check can help remedy the negligence. Unfortunately, Sirius doesn't seem to offer up lifetime subscription plans anymore. It would have been a sweet no-brainer to offer up $600 rebate check packages that include an entry-level Sirius receiver and a lifetime pass.
However, Sirius' receivers have also gotten pretty slick, even as satellite radio providers have struggled at the retail level. Whether the rebate checks inspire a Sirius upgrade at the auto showroom, or get folks back into the consumer-electronics superstores to buy portable receivers, it's time for Sirius and XM Satellite Radio
Fresh off its patent victory, TiVo now has the ammo to go after other digital video recorder manufacturers trying to get all TiVoesque. Now the rebate checks are coming to arm the couch potatoes, too.
Rebate checks will be enough to cover TiVo's latest HD-compatible boxes. Even if one argues that those rebate checks will first go toward actual LCD and plasma high-definition sets, the TiVo Series 3 boxes would be a natural add-on.
Will there be more winners? Sure. However, these are the companies with popular products that sell for a few hundred bucks -- perfect resting places for the rebate checks going out.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that a box of chocolates can be considered a stimulus package. He owns shares in TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.