To celebrate the holidays, we here at the Fool are devoting extra virtual ink to all things consumer-focused in a special section called "The 12 Days of Christmas." Over the coming week, we'll have our "12 Days of Content" surrounding consumer-focused names that look set to profit or perish from the holiday cheer.
Some stocks are like roasted chestnuts bought on a snowy streetcorner at Christmastime: You want to get 'em while they're hot.
Over the next decade, toymaker Hasbro will be one of those companies, transforming its portfolio of games and action-figure heroes into movies, TV shows, and other entertainment opportunities. The Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation is potentially a huge, multimedia powerhouse.
Others companies, not so much. We'll be lucky if they're still hanging around by next Christmas.
A lump of coal
Even with the tight economy, discount retailer Sears Holdings
The once-venerable retailer has paid the price of neglect, achieving not one single quarter of positive same-store sales since the combined company emerged from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, investors have bought into the argument that Sears' land will ultimately unlock shareholder value, but a weakening commercial real estate market doesn't bode well for that scenario. As customers continue to avoid its stores, a less robust cash hoard will leave Sears with less room to maneuver.
Enough to make you cry
The news parody site The Onion once ran an imaginative interview with RadioShack
Satire, yes, but it also hits pretty close to home. Unless you're looking for some obscure doodad, many people just go to Best Buy
Although sales have been on a multiyear downtrend, the company has still managed to earn $192 million in the last four quarters.
However, not even rebranding the company as "The Shack" can offset its own dwindling consumer base. Last quarter, RadioShack was reduced to blaming lower sales of batteries and GPS devices, among other reasons, for its failure to report revenue growth. Coupled with a reliance on stand-alone GPS devices that have themselves been gutted by wireless telecoms incorporating the technology into their phones, the Shack's business model seems even less relevant to today's electronics customer.
A busted business
Blockbuster has become a horrorshow of its own, with a growing debt profile and plummeting sales, making its next starring role likely similar to Circuit City's final performance.
Burn this book
Investors will be able to also turn the page on Borders Group
Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon are all vying for a larger share of the reading public's dollar by cutting prices on best-sellers to $10. With the company's margins already under pressure, it will have a harder time matching those discounts, which could make this Borders' final chapter.
A wreath of mourning
There's no Christmas cheer in pointing out the companies that face chilly prospects in 2010, but these retailers all look like ghosts of Yuletides past. A weakened economy means that some of them -- maybe all of them -- won't be around to welcome in the New Year in 2011.
Do you agree that Sears won't be hoisting a warm cup of wassail next year? Is Blockbuster a burnt-out bulb? Are Radio Shack and Borders ready to be tossed onto the Yule log? Then go caroling in the comments section below, and let us know which company you think is enjoying its last Christmas.
Amazon.com, Best Buy, Hasbro, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Best Buy, Sears Holdings, and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy and Hasbro. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.