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Two Ways To Play: Retail Report Card


Strengthen your portfolio in good times and bad.


The Saturday before Christmas should officially be renamed ''Black Saturday," as retailers slash prices and offer incentives to lure last-minute shoppers. It's all part of an effort to save what's left of what the Wall Street Journal calls "disastrous holiday season."

Across the country, many retailers are extending store hours and offering sale prices better than Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving and unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Barneys New York is cutting prices by as much as 70%, Circuit City is planning unadvertised specials on big-ticket electronics, JC Penny (JCP) will offer approximately 300 door-buster discounts and Sears (SHLD) is discounting fine jewelry up to 70%.

But with sales already down 2% from the same period last year, many analysts believe too much ground needs to be made up - and that efforts will fall short. Compounding the issue, weekend snow storms in the Northeast could keep shoppers at home.

From the Bull Pen: The right business model in this environment is Costco (COST), and the intermediate uptrend is intact. Bulls playing the upside can set a sell stop below $52.

From the Bear Cave: Much of the sentiment could be priced into these retailers. A rally in Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) to $30 could present a better downside opportunity.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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