Sometimes it's hard to keep a full spectrum shiny. That's what consumer goods conglomerate Spectrum Brands (NYSE:SPC) is finding out these days. Several of its divisions -- like battery makers Varta and Rayovac, personal grooming brand Remington, and lawn care specialist Schultz -- just aren't what they used to be. The company took a hefty asset impairment charge of $433 million to account for lost goodwill in its brand portfolio.

That's almost 30% of its goodwill balance in Q3, and nearly equal to the company's current $450 million market cap. Ouch! Despite a Remington marketing campaign highlighting Cindy Crawford, Remington sales declined 2% year over year, though Brett Favre's Rayovac push helped that segment to "significant" but undisclosed growth. That marketing spending will only increase, including plans to increase the advertising budget by $18 million in this quarter and nearly $30 million for the full year.

To offset higher material costs on battery components like zinc and copper, a price increase on Rayovac and Varta batteries will take effect in January. Procter & Gamble's (NYSE:PG) Duracell and Energizer (NYSE:ENR) have already kicked their prices up a notch for the same reason. But despite these defense measures against tough market conditions, management says that the current quarter will be "earnings challenged," and plans to sell or spin off some of its brands. CEO Dave Jones said that there has been "strong interest" in whatever assets the company is selling, but he won't say what those assets are or who is reaching for the checkbook.

Spectrum Brands is hardly the best-run conglomerate out there today. In my opinion, that honor would go to Otter Tail (NASDAQ:OTTR) on the small scale, while the megacorporation race is a dead heat between 3M (NYSE:MMM) and General Electric (NYSE:GE). If you're looking for an investment safe from trend shifts and even most macroeconomic swings, those would be good places to start. Tyco (NYSE:TYC) gets disqualified because of its plans to split up into three smaller businesses early next year.

On the other hand, Spectrum might be for you -- if you like dumpster-diving. The stock price has dropped 80% in the past 18 months, and there's always a chance that these damaged goods could be salvaged in time. Just don't expect a quick turnaround -- there are too many dark clouds hanging over the company for the rainbow to shine through.

Further Foolishness:

Otter Tail is a Hidden Gems pick, while Tyco and 3M are Inside Valueselections. Take a free 30-day trial to one or both of these newsletter services, and you'll be well on your way to clear skies.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure never disappoints. Cual es la pila? RAYOVAC es la pila.