(By Rich Bieglmeier) After Black-Friday ads hogged up nearly all the Thanksgiving Day football ad spots, the day of "door-busting-deals," long lines, and incredible stories of rudeness is here. Tomorrow's headlines will read of record sales and foot traffic. Stories of an encouraged consumer will be everywhere, and then, it's Cyber-Monday.
The retail sprint from Thanksgiving to a week or so past the first of 2013 will make or break many retailers' years. For investors, picking the winners and losers of the holiday shopping season could make for fat profits in this year's stocking.
History may not repeat or be an indication of future performance, but investors should have confidence in management that has a track record of getting it right. As Megan Donadio, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, put it in FT.com last year, "The companies that have had negative [sales] have lost touch with their target consumer. They're clearly not able to give consumers what they want."
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With that in mind, let's take a look back at some of 2011's winners and what's been reported so far this Black Friday!
Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY), despite all of its problems, was declared the unanimous winner. The electronics retailer was able to lock in compelling, exclusive deals that kept shoppers from show-rooming prior to buying online. Shares moved from $24.83 to $27.48 (10.7%) in the six trading days following Black-Friday.
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Macy's, Inc. (M) saw its November sales climb by 4.8% thanks to its Black-Friday success. Based on the number of Macy's ad on the TV yesterday, iStock wouldn't be surprised to see the retailer back on the medal stand in 2012. M's stock priced climbed from $28.90 to $32.53 (12.6%) in the six trading days following Black-Friday
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is another that dominated TV time with its commercials on Turkey Day. In 2011, the discount retailer was amongst the big winners, minus the destruction caused by shoppers. Wal-Mart stock increased from $55.24 to $57.44 (3.98%) in the four days after Black-Friday.
Early reports form Wal-Mart suggests the "most successful" Black-Friday, ever, in the company's history by selling 5,000 items per second. That's amazing! Success came despite efforts from some union members to strike against the non-union shop on its busiest day of the year.
However, the king of the Black-Friday/Cyber-Monday exacta is likely to remain Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Last year, the A-thru-Z online retailer saw the number of visitors increase by 50%. Last year, AMZN's share price shot from $182.40 to $197.13 (8%) in the four days after Black-Friday. (In case you haven't noticed, the Black-Friday effect seems to have a four to six day expiration date.)
Early indications from IBM's Benchmark service show online sales up more than 23% in 2012 versus 2011. Meanwhile, "PayPal is already seeing almost a 3-fold increase (190%) in global mobile payment volume on Black Friday 2012 compared to the same time period on Black Friday 2011," according to IBM. This bodes well for PayPal's owner eBay Inc. (EBAY) who gets a healthy chunk of every one of those transactions.
According to a poll done by Gallup, 18-29 year-olds are the leading crowd going to the malls this year. Thirty-four percent say they plan on braving the long lines and getting their hands on the deals.
The biggest winners are likely to be retailers that cater to the younger crowd. Hip stores like Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) and Urban Outfitters Inc. (URBN) could see a boost in sales and profits for 2012 compared to 2011. Both stores were favorites for online anecdotal reports. For example, CNN Money reports La Plaza Mall in McAllen, Texas, "Abercrombie & Fitch had to close their store entrances temporarily as they had reached capacity with hundreds of shoppers waiting to enter the stores." Meanwhile, shoppers "smashed" through the doors in Santa Monica, California.
Limited Brands, Inc. (LTD) could be an of the radar winner, as well. According to news reports, Victoria's Secret stores were among the most packed in the malls across America with some of the best deals selling out within minutes.
Then, of course, there are the electronics. Once again, Best Buy reportedly saw big crowds as did Apple Inc. (AAPL) stores. With both stock prices under pressure, better than expected sales could give both a much needed energy boost.
Finally, it's been Tweeted that Hasbro Inc's (HAS) "Furby is mostly out of stock at leading retailer websites, including Amazon.com." Must be all those 20 somethings buying for nieces and nephews?
iStock will continue to monitor the news flow to see which companies got the most of our dollars on Friday. We'll try to pick the winners in the days ahead to help pay off those holiday credit card bills.