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Hurricane Sandy's Winners and Losers List


Mother Nature's "reset" has strengthened the outlook for some sectors while weakening others.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL As if things weren't uncertain enough after a long, drawn-out recovery/recession -- and while we are coming up on a pivotal presidential election and looming fiscal cliff -- leave it to Mother Nature to hit the giant "reset" button to shake things up. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, virtually the entire population of the US Northeast and the upper Atlantic Coast has had to shift course to at least some degree from the pre-storm days, and many consumers are now focused on big issues that didn't exist before, such as how to survive or where to live, or on new more mundane topics, such as simply how to get to work.

This reset has created some new winners and loser in its wake.

With 5 million to 6 million households suddenly unplugged, radio emerged as an unexpected winner, at least for the short term. "There is no doubt that the New York broadcast system continued to function and provide life-saving information during Hurricane Sandy. In many areas, it was the only service available to connect the community with first responders," said David Donovan, President of the New York State Broadcasters Association. Both ABC, owned by Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), and CBS NYC:CBS) operate radio stations in the area.

More media buys (especially political ads) are expected to be sent to radio at the expense of other vehicles such as broadcast or print. That boost is likely to be short-lived for the companies that produce content sold against advertising verus subscription or satellite radio.

Two-thirds of new cars are now equipped with receivers for satellite radio, which means that consumers no longer have to purchase and install the equipment necessary to receive satellite radio. (However, they will still have to pay the monthly fees for ad-free listening.) Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) is poised to capitalize on this trend as is Apple (NASDAQ:APPL). The world's biggest music retailer (with 400 million iTunes accounts) plans to launch a streaming radio competitor to Pandora next year.

Another group in the short-term winners category that should have a considerably longer run than radio will be hardware and building supplies. A Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) spokesman quoted in USA Today said merchandise was "flying out the door" and more than 100 truckloads of generators, chainsaws, pumps, flashlights, batteries, and lanterns were headed east. Sears was up 2% in trading today. Home Depot (NYSE:HD), which extended its hours pre-storm, saw a nearly 5% bump to its stock by Wednesday, and is up another 1% today. Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) saw a similar boost.
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