The stock market is a lot like a football game. It all comes down to the fourth quarter.
Whether we're talking retailers slugging it out during the pivotal holidays or fund managers trying to outmuscle the market averages, winners will be separated from the losers over the next three months.
I'll go out on a limb with a few predictions. Some may be more Hail Marys than shovel passes.
1. Microsoft will come back to Yahoo!
Forget all of the mean-spirited words. These two will inevitably wind up in each other's arms. Why wait? Google
Yahoo!'s chairman and CEO were barely able to retain their board seats this summer, so shareholder unrest festers. With Yahoo! unable to unlock shareholder value on its own, its days of independence are numbered.
2. Get ready for some Sirius gains
Shares of Sirius XM Radio
Have you noticed how the stock has been in a narrow trading range since closing on its merger with XM? Get used to it. In this rare combination of equals -- a merger in the truest sense -- the number of shares outstanding has doubled. It will take a lot to get this stock to move around the way it used to.
That may be bad news for the bulls who hope the stock will price itself out of Happy Meal territory, but it will also keep the stock from tanking on anything other than dire model-altering news. That will shake out many of the speculators on the long and short side, and bring in investors who believe that a company with 18.6 million subscribers -- and growing -- can be a viable business once the synergies get a shot to simmer.
3. New, cheaper Kindles are coming
I'm not going out on much of a limb here, but I need a layup to point to in three months in case the rest of my calls prove hollow.
In order to have momentum heading into the start of the Christmas shopping season, Amazon will need to have the new Kindles ready before consumers make their big-ticket decisions during the Thanksgiving weekend. It already blew a shot at the back-to-school market. My best guess at a price is $279, without the Amazon credit-card promotion.
To make this prediction a bit more precise: The uncharacteristically shy Amazon, which has so far avoided putting out specific unit-sales data on its Kindle, will come clean with actual numbers a few days after Christmas, when it recaps its holiday performance.
4. Wii will still rock the stockings
Nintendo's (OTC BB: NTDOY) breakthrough Wii has been battering the video game console competition for several quarters. It has led rivals Sony
This would normally pose a problem for Nintendo, because one of its biggest advantages is that its two competitors initially priced their systems at roughly twice the untouched $250 Wii price. Will Xbox 360 snag the pole position as the price leader? I don't think so. Yes, Microsoft and the Blu-ray-enabled Sony will gain market share at Nintendo's expense, but the Wii will still be the console best-seller. There are too many Wii-specific titles out there. The "staycation" mindset will also play into Nintendo's hands, given its family-friendly appeal.
This is going to be a great holiday season for all three box makers, but Wii will win again.
Am I crazy? Is Microhoo fading fast in the rearview mirror? Is Sirius XM a market pariah? Is Amazon going to hold firm to its Kindle pricing? Is the Wii about to get crushed?
I'm shaking my head on all of those questions, but you've got your own joggin' noggin. Whether you agree or disagree with me, let me know in the comment box below.
It's time to don the pads and hit the gridiron... and what's this about no beer sales after the third quarter?
Other ways to hike the ball and your interest:
Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Nintendo and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never won a gold medal. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for Netflix and 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.