Lately, I've been cautious about consumer behavior, whether said consumers are shopping for Nordstrom's (NYSE:JWN) high-end handbags or General Mills' (NYSE:GIS) brand-name cereal. But I recently found at least a small glimmer of hope nestled in the entertainment sector.

Nothing beats a recession like high-def
In a March Newsweek article, Zachary Karabell astutely observes, "Even if 5 percent more [workers] will lose their jobs, surveys shows that more than 50 percent fear that they will." In other words, things are better than they seem. While I was hesitant to run with that perspective -- sentiment has a way of turning itself into reality -- it nonetheless inspired me to track down evidence that consumers remained alive and kicking.

My search unearthed a report from market researcher NPD Group, which had surprisingly good things to say about U.S. consumers' willingness to spend on entertainment throughout 2009. According to the report:

  • 75% of surveyed consumers plan to spend the same amount or more year over year on digital music downloads in 2009.
  • 60% responded the same regarding CD purchases, and 65% have similar plans for their video game spending.
  • 73% of surveyed consumers expect to ante up the same or an increased amount for theatrical movies, compared to 66% in last year's survey.

Armed with this data, I wanted to see how both analysts and the Motley Fool CAPS investing gang felt about a handful of stocks that tap into these and other entertainment trends.

Company

Share Price

Current Year Growth Estimate

Next Year Growth Estimate

CAPS Rating (5-star max)

GameStop (NYSE:GME)

$29.80

19.6%

11.8%

****

Marvel Entertainment (NYSE:MVL)

$27.81

(53.3%)

63.1%

****

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

$121.76

(2.8%)

14.2%

***

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)

$14.27

7.7%

14.3%

**

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI)

$0.41

60.7%

36.4%

**

Data from Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo! Finance, as of April 21.

Remember, these are only suggestions for further research, not formal recommendations. But personally -- and maybe it's just because I saw Iron Man an embarrassing number of times -- I'm intrigued by Marvel. CAPS member beStrongBelieve agrees, succinctly arguing, "Who doesn't love a comic book movie enough to see it twice in theaters and then buy the Blu-Ray?"

Not convinced that big-screen-escapism will thrive during the recession? The Federal Reserve begs to differ: It recently began running mortgage scam prevention ads during movie previews.

Of course, the only component missing here is your opinion. Ditch those recession thoughts and head on over to CAPS, where it's free to share your thoughts on these entertainment names, or any other stock for that matter. I can't guarantee that it'll turn you into a superhero, but it might just make you famous!

Amuse yourself with the following Foolish reads:

Fool contributor Mike Pienciak does not hold shares in any company mentioned. Apple, GameStop, and Marvel Entertainment are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.