Today is National 401(k) Day. No, we're not making that up. Go ahead and Google it. Each year, the day after Labor Day is one dedicated to thinking about how to actually stop working. So take a minute and think about your employee-sponsored retirement plan. Are you getting everything you want out of it? Have you even enrolled in it yet?

Don't put it off any longer. This holiday may not exactly be raking in the dough for Hallmark, but the 401(k) can be the cornerstone of your retirement plan if you play your cards right.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Netflix and TiVo to Hook Up?


Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Has the moment that TiVo(Nasdaq: TIVO) and Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX) investors have been waiting for finally come to pass? Well, speculation has turned to rumor, which many obviously hope will turn to fact. According to Newsweek, these two disruptive companies will join forces to bring downloaded movies via the TiVo box. Is it too good to be true?

Now, Newsweek felt good enough about reporting this rumor to issue a press release publicizing the article. It's important to note that the companies' spokespeople refuse to comment on what one specifically dubbed a rumor, while the anonymous source for the article, described as an insider close to the negotiations, said it's "all but a done deal."

Back in June, I hoped for such computer-to-TiVo innovation when I penned The Little TiVo That Could. TiVo's easy-to-understand interface would make a perfect bridge from PC to television. At the time, when I wondered whether TiVo could present a challenge to Netflix, many readers suggested that the two companies could strike a powerful accord and together bring even more immediacy to video.

Indeed, the ability to download Netflix movies over the Internet for playback via a TiVo machine would be brilliant. I can admit, as a TiVo subscriber, I'd likely be a shoo-in (not to mention I'd probably rapidly become a shut-in) for such a service through my TiVo box. Both companies are known for making entertainment options easy.

Along the same lines, Business 2.0 recently pointed out that TiVo's recent acquisition of Strangeberry -- a software company that comes equipped with programming guru Arthur van Hoff -- further solidifies the idea that TiVo could go far beyond simple recording and time shifting of television.

Of course, TiVo's crowd of competitors and the fact that Blockbuster(NYSE: BBI) has finally gotten smarter mean both TiVo and Netflix can't tarry as they move on to the next phases of their businesses.

Today, though, there are reasons for concern, not least of which is the fact that this is still very much a rumor, and therefore buying shares is a risk. In terms of what both companies need to accomplish to narrow their losses, bolster sales and subscribers, and fend off rivals, the story sounds good... but let's just hope it's not too good to be true.

Check out some more recent TiVo coverage:

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. As much as she's crazy about her TiVo, she hasn't been too fond of the TiVo print ads she's seen around lately.

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Same Story at Circuit City


Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Circuit City (NYSE: CC) , like its rival Best Buy(NYSE: BBY), preannounces its sales numbers every quarter. Today, where Circuit City's second quarter was concerned, the electronics retailer echoed other retailers' sentiments regarding sluggish August, compounded by a late Labor Day that also rubbed most retailers the wrong way.

Circuit City said that its overall sales increased 8.9% to $2.35 billion in the second quarter, exceeding analysts' expectations, with same-store sales up 2.9%. Not surprisingly, plasma, LCD, and digital televisions were a particular hit with shoppers, while decreases in tube TV, DVD player, and camcorder sales offset the success in high-end television sales. The company also saw double-digit increases in notebook sales, partially offset by double-digit declines in desktop computers.

Last week, Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter gave us a foreshadowing of Best Buy's quarter; the retailer reported a decent quarter, but it represented a slowdown from last quarter and from the same quarter last year. It also reported increased sales of digital TVs, as well as notebook computers, digital cameras, and MP3 players. (Fancy televisions, of course, have hit the consumers' collective fancy, a trend not lost on Sears(NYSE: S), which recently launched its own high-end television.)

Circuit City's same-store sales number missed analysts' estimates, as they were looking for a 3.5% increase in same-store sales for the quarter. (It doesn't hurt to note that Best Buy also missed same-store sales expectations, with that difficult August likely factored in.) Circuit City's full quarterly report is due Sept. 17.

Although Circuit City shares dipped in today's early trading, whether investors should take a particularly negative view of today's news is a mixed question. Best Buy, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, has been seen as a strong force to contend with in electronics as it gobbles up market share; that part of the equation is nothing new. But some investors are watching for Circuit City to make a turnaround.

On the other hand, August's cool sales have afflicted retailers across the board, so Circuit City's sluggish August should come as no surprise to investors. In addition, there is likely a variety of reasons why consumers might be a bit sedate at the moment. Given the currently unstable time for retailers, it seems prudent that investors might want to reserve judgment.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.

Discussion Board of the Day: Video & PC Games

Have you plunked down your hard-earned money for the ESPN football game? How do you think it held up to Electronic Arts' genre leader? What about San Andreas? Will it live up to the hype? All this and more in the Video & PC Games discussion board.

US Airways Stalls


Tim Beyers

I'll say this for the airline industry: It sure isn't boring.

This morning, members of its pilots union rejected the latest contract offer from US Airways(Nasdaq: UAIR) management. Investors parachuted from the stock in early trading, sending shares lower by as much as 23% at market open. Even with a slight updraft, the airline's shares have descended nearly 12% as of this writing.

US Airways is under pressure to reduce costs ahead of payments due at the end of the month or face bankruptcy a second time. Management has said that covering its obligations will require $1.5 billion in new cuts. That includes $300 million in givebacks from pilots -- more than a third of the $800 million total the airline is seeking from union employees. After an ugly spat, late last week US Airways looked as though it might broker a deal with pilots. No longer.

Reuters reports that the 12-member executive committee of the pilots union couldn't agree on management's proposal, with particular opposition coming from representatives from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The rejection makes it more likely the airline will go back into hock. Yet the ordeal seems to have emboldened other carriers in need of cutting costs. Consider:

  • Northwest (Nasdaq: NWAC) last week added fees to overcome what it estimates are $70 million in ticketing distribution fees. AMR's(NYSE: AMR) American Airlines quickly followed suit by charging new fees on tickets booked through its reservations centers or at the airport, although it failed to adopt Northwest's more controversial policy of not absorbing as much as $7.50 in fees for tickets booked through travel agents using distribution networks such as Sabre(NYSE: TSG), a policy that the airline has since rescinded.

  • UAL Corp. also last week said it will need to cut costs by at least another $655 million, but published reports say this could include 6,000 job cuts. The airline isn't talking, but a spokesperson admitted that more job cuts would at some point be needed.

  • And Friday Continental Airlines(NYSE: CAL) said it would follow United and skip pension contributions this year to preserve cash.

What's it all add up to for investors? It's hard to say for sure, but it seems increasingly clear that in the next year or more nearly every airline will transform itself to be a low-fare carrier. Should that prove true, then those already running slim operations, such as Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick JetBlue(Nasdaq: JBLU) and emerging outfits such as AirTran(NYSE: AAI) and Frontier Airlines could catch a tailwind.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers has no ownership interest in any of the companies mentioned, although members of his family are retired from United Airlines. You can view Tim's Fool profile here.

Quote of Note

"Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true." -- Demosthenes, Greek politician

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