Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now

Chinese growth stocks stormed higher last week.

Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  ) busted through with a 15% pop on the week, fueled by its proposed $1.9 billion deal for China’s leading mobile apps marketplace operator. Through its two leading exchanges, 91 Wireless has dished out 10 billion downloads for smartphones and tablets.

Baidu is the undisputed champ when it comes to desktop search in the world’s most populous nation, but the former dot-com darling has been struggling to position itself as a growth play in the mobile boom that’s taking place worldwide.

Baidu is still growing nicely — and investors should see that when the search leader reports quarterly results on Wednesday — but investors applauded the company’s bold move to become a bigger player in mobile.

Are investors finally ready to buy back into China? Are the high growth rates and often reasonable valuations enough to outweigh the geopolitical risks of buying into Chinese growth stocks?

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: FTD Companies Inc (FTD)

FTD Companies, Inc. (FTD), incorporated on April 25, 2008, is a floral and gifting company. The Company provides floral, gift and related products and services to consumers and retail florists, as well as to other retail locations offering floral and gift products primarily in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. The Company operates in one segment, which includes floral and related products and services. Its business uses the FTD and Interflora brands, both supported by the Mercury Man logo. The Company’s portfolio of brands also includes Flying Flowers, Flowers Direct, and Drake Algar in the United Kingdom. On November 1, 2013, United Online, Inc. (United Online) completed the separation of United Online into two independent, publicly traded companies: FTD Companies, Inc. and United Online, Inc.

The Company’s products revenues are derived primarily from selling floral, gift and related products to consumers and the related shipping and service fees. Products revenues also include revenues generated from sales of hard goods, software and hardware systems, cut flowers, packaging and promotional products, and a range of other floral-related supplies to floral network members. Its services revenues related to orders sent through the floral network are variable based on either the number of orders or on the value of orders and are recognized in the period in which the orders.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Udovich]

    As we head towards Black Friday, small cap specialty retail stocks United Online, Inc (NASDAQ: UNTD), TravelCenters of America LLC (NYSE: TA) and MarineMax, Inc (NYSE: HZO) have the distinction of being the best performing small cap specialty retail stocks for this year (according to Finviz.com) with gains of 181.2%, 123.8% and 71.8%, respectively. With those returns in mind, what are these small cap specialty retail stocks doing right and will the performance last through the all important holiday season? Here is what new and existing investors and traders alike need to know or consider:

    United Online, Inc. A provider of consumer products and services over the Internet, United Online’s Content & Media segment services are online nostalgia (Memory Lane) and online loyalty marketing (MyPoints) while its primary Communications segment services are Internet access and email (NetZero and Juno). The reason United Online is among the best performing specialty retail stocks for this year in various stock screening tools like Finviz.com is actually misleading as the company has just completed the spin off of subsidiary FTD Companies, a floral and gifts products company acquired in August 2008 for $441 million, as FTD Companies Inc (NASDAQ: FTD) where United Online shareholders received one share of FTD common stock for every five shares of United Online common stock they hold. In addition, United Online completed a one-for-seven reverse stock split of United Online shares. On Tuesday, small cap United Online, Inc fell 1.01% to $15.72 (UNTD has a 52 week trading range of $11.65 to $62.30 a share) for a market cap of $207.79 million plus the stock is up 181.2% since the start of the year and up 182.2% over the past five years. Meanwhile, the FTD Companies Inc now has a market cap of $611.60 and the stock is up almost 6% since October.

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: West Marine Inc (WMAR)

West Marine, Inc., incorporated in September 1993, is a specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories. The Company offers an assortment of merchandise for the boat and for the boater. It operates in three segments: Stores, Port Supply and Direct-to-Customer. The Company sells to both retail and wholesale customers in its Stores segment. In addition, the Company has three franchised stores in Turkey. The Company’s Port Supply segment is its wholesale segment. The Company’s Direct-to-Customer, which includes e-commerce, catalog and call center transactions. During the year ended December 31, 2011, Stores segment generated approximately 90% of its net revenues. During 2011, products shipped to Port Supply customers directly from its warehouses represented approximately 4% of its net revenues.

During 2011, its Direct Sales segment offered customers around the world more than 75,000 products and accounted for the remaining 6% of its net revenues. Priva te label products, which the Company sells under the West Marine, Black Tip, Third Reef, Pure Oceans, Lifesling, SeaVolt and Seafit brand names, usually are manufactured in Asia, the United States and Europe.

Stores Segment

During 2011, the Company opened six stores while closing 14 stores. In December 2011, it opened its Fort Lauderdale Boating Superstore, a 50,000 square foot flagship. Its flagship stores ranging in size from 21,000 to 50,000 square feet, offering an array of merchandise typically about 16,000 items, as well as displays designed to help customers make informed product selections. It also operates large format stores, standard-sized stores and smaller Express stores. Its large format stores range from 13,000 to 19,000 square feet and carry about 11,000 items. The standard-sized stores typically range from 6,000 to 12,000 square feet and carry over 6,000 items. Express stores typically range from 2,500 to 3,000 square feet and carry over 4,000 items, mainly hardware and other supplies needed! for day-to-day boat maintenance and repairs.

Port Supply Segment

Port Supply customers include businesses involved in boat sales, boat building, boat commissioning and repair, yacht chartering, marina operations and other boating-related activities. In addition, Port Supply sells to government and industrial customers who use its products for boating and non-boating purposes. Port Supply, the Company’s wholesale segment, serves wholesale customers seeking convenience and a larger assortment of products than those carried by typical distributors.

Direct-to-Customer Segment

The Company’s e-commerce Website provides its customers with access to a selection of approximately 75,000 products, product advisor tips and technical information, over 450 product videos and customer-submitted product reviews. This segment also provides customers with access to knowledgeable technical advisors who can assist its customers in underst anding the various uses and applications of the products it sell. It operates a virtual call center from which its associates assist its customers by taking calls from their homes or from its support center in Watsonville, California. Its virtual call center supports sales generated through its e-commerce Website, catalogs and stores and provides customer service offerings.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Interactive Buyside]

    West Marine (Nasdaq: WMAR) is an undervalued retailer.  The company is going through a change in focus from a bricks and mortar boat product retailer to a fully integrated retail and wholesale business through bricks and clicks, targeting the boating and water enthusiast customer.   Recent results have been affected by a severe rainy and cool spring which hurt boat usage and delayed the start of the season.  The company has accelerated cash investments to build larger more productive stores and expand its ecommerce abilities, consequently affecting free cash flow short term.  The stock lacks sponsorship as there is only one research report written on the company by a small boutique firm.  The stock trades at only book value despite the company being the leading industry player with a solid balance sheet and significant net cash position. 

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: Puget Technologies Inc (PUGE)

PUGET TECHNOLOGIES, INC., incorporated on March 17, 2010, is a development-stage company. The Company is engaged in the distribution of luxury wool bedding sets produced in Germany. The Company’s product includes Lama Wool, Camel Wool, Cashmere Wool and Merino Wool.

The Company’s Lama Wool is consists of 50% Lama Wool hair, and 50% Merino wool hair. The Camel wool is consists of 50% Camel wool hair, and 50% Merino wool hair. The Cashmere wool is blended with Merino wool.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap stocks Inscor, Inc (OTCMKTS: IOGA), Puget Technologies Inc (OTCBB: PUGE) and PTA Holdings Inc (OTCMKTS: PTAH) have all been getting some attention lately in various investment newsletters or investor alerts. However, two of these small caps have been the subject of paid promotions while the third is getting attention largely because its in the growing marijuana or cannabis business. With that in mind, are these stocks really all that hot or not? Here is a quick reality check:

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS)

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (Barnes & Noble), incorporated on November 19, 1986, is a bookseller. The Company is a content, commerce and technology company that provides customers access to books, magazines, newspapers and other content across its multi-channel distribution platform. As of April 27, 2013, it operated 1,361 bookstores in 50 states, 686 bookstores on college campuses, and operates one of the Web eCommerce sites, and develops digital content products and software. Barnes & Noble operates in three segments: B&N Retail, B&N College and NOOK. The Company’s principal business is the sale of trade books (generally hardcover and paperback consumer titles), mass market paperbacks (such as mystery, romance, science fiction and other popular fiction), children’s books, eBooks and other digital content, NOOK and related accessories, bargain books, magazines, gifts, cafe products and services, educational toys & games, music and movies direct to customers through its books tores or on barnesandnoble.com.

Of the Company’s 1,361 bookstores, 675 operate primarily under the Barnes & Noble Booksellers trade name. Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC (B&N College), a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, operates 686 college bookstores at colleges and universities across the United States. Barnes & Noble Retail (B&N Retail) operates the 675 retail bookstores. Retail also includes the Company’s eCommerce site and Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. (Sterling or Sterling Publishing), a leader in general trade book publishing.

B&N Retail

This segment includes 675 bookstores as of April 27, 2013, primarily under the Barnes & Noble Booksellers trade name. These stores generally offer a dedicated NOOK area, a comprehensive trade book title base, a cafe, and departments dedicated to Juvenile, Toys & Games, DVDs, Music, Gift, Magazine and Bargain products. The stores also offer a calendar of ongoing events, incl uding author appearances and children’s activities. The B&! N Retail segment also includes the Company’s eCommerce website, barnesandnoble.com, and its publishing operation, Sterling Publishing. Barnes & Noble stores range in size from 3,000 to 60,000 square feet depending upon market size, with an overall average store size of 26,000 square feet. During the fiscal year ended April 27, 2013 (fiscal), the Company reduced the Barnes & Noble store base by 0.3 million square feet, bringing the total square footage to 17.7 million square feet. The Company’s B&N Retail segment purchases physical books on a regular basis from over 800 publishers and over 50 wholesalers or distributors. As of April 27, 2013, Barnes & Noble had stores in 162 of the total 210 Designated Market Area markets.

Sterling Publishing is a publisher of non-fiction trade titles. It is a range of non-fiction and illustrated books and kits across a range of imprints, in categories, such as health and wellness, music and culture, food and wine, crafts and photo graphy, puzzles and games, history and current affairs, as well as a children’s books.

B&N College

B&N College sells new and used textbooks in campus bookstores and online. As of April 27, 2013, B&N College operated 686 stores nationwide. The Company’s customer base, which is mainly consisted of students and faculty, can purchase various items from their campus stores, including textbooks and course-related materials, emblematic apparel and gifts, trade books, computer products, NOOK products and related accessories, school and dorm supplies, convenience and cafe items.

As of April 27, 2013, B&N College operates 651 traditional college bookstores and 35 academic superstores, which are generally larger in size, offer cafes and provide a sense of community that engages the surrounding campus and local communities in college activities and culture. The traditional bookstores range in size from 500 to 48,000 square feet. The academic su perstores range in size from 8,000 to 75,000 square feet. B&! N College! ’s three customer constituencies are students, faculty members and campus administrators.

NOOK

This segment includes the Company’s digital business, which includes the Company’s eBookstore, digital newsstand and sales of NOOK devices and accessories to third party distribution partners, as well as to B&N Retail and B&N College. Barnes & Noble’s NOOK digital bookstore and Reading Apps provide customers the ability to purchase and read their digital content and access to their Lifetime Library on a range of digital platforms, including Windows 8 PCs and tablets, iPad, iPhone , Android smartphones and tablets, PC and Mac. Barnes & Noble has implemented features on its digital platform to ensure that customers can access their NOOK content from almost all of today’s most popular devices.

The Company competes with Target, Books-A-Million, Waldenbooks, Amazon.com, Apple, Wal-Mart and Costco.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Barnes & Noble (BKS) are tumbling for a second day after John Malone’s Liberty Media (LMCA) said it would sell most of its stake in the struggling book seller.

    REUTERS

    In a report released yesterday, Credit Suisse analysts Gary Balter and Andrew Kinder note that Liberty Media’s exit could mean the end of the line for Barnes & Noble’s Nook:

    The removal of Liberty Media as a significant investor in [Barnes & Noble] also seems to be another signal in the company’s strategic shift with managing the NOOK. Similar to CEO William Lynch’s departure, it appears those most interested in growing the NOOK platform have now left. Under new management, the new strategy being implemented for the NOOK is one where cost cuts are emphasized and attempts are made to monetize, not grow, the remaining assets. This strategy has decreased the value drag of the NOOK this year. However, it is too [early] to see to what extent this strategy will result in the ability for shareholders to see just the positive EBITDA contributions from Retail and College, something that the bulls are currently hoping for.

    Shares of Barnes & Noble have dropped 4.8% to $18.19 at 3pm today, while Liberty Media is off 2.4% at $1127.30.

  • [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]

    Mel Evans/AP From a media giant growing its reach through rental cars to a beleaguered theme park operator warning of even slower turnstile clicks, here’s a rundown of the week’s best and worst from the business world. Microsoft (MSFT) — Winner Many argued that Microsoft deciding late last month to offer up its flagship Microsoft Office suite of productivity software for iPads was too little, too late. Folks had already moved on to free or nearly free alternatives, and Microsoft was already suffering with a global slump in PC sales. Well, Microsoft still has plenty of bite. It announced there were 12 million downloads of its Word, Excel and PowerPoint iPad apps in its first week of availability. Barnes & Noble (BKS) — Loser It’s not just bookworms checking out of Barnes & Noble. Liberty Media (LMCA) is selling 90 percent of its shares of the struggling bookstore operator, taking its stake of 17 percent down to less than 2 percent. Liberty Media will give up the right to appoint a pair of board members now that it’s a shrinking investor, but that seems to be a small price to pay for an investor that wants to deploy that money somewhere else. Running a book superstore isn’t easy these days. Barnes & Noble’s sales have been sluggish as readers go digital, and the chain’s push to cash in on the trend with its own Nook line is fading fast. Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) — Winner Satellite radio will be easier to tune into in rental cars. Avis Budget Group (CAR) revealed this week that in-dash Sirius XM receivers are now available in more than 60 percent of its Avis and Budget car rental agencies. Avis Budget previously relied on portable plug-and-play receivers that renters could order at the counter. Drivers will still have to pay for access. There’s no free lunch even if it’s a prepaid rental. However, it’s still a good way for Sirius XM to expand brand awareness and ideally hook future subscribers. SeaWorld (SEAS) — Loser Looks like the killer

  • [By Sue Chang and Saumya Vaishampayan]

    BKS: Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS)  shares slid 5.4%. Liberty Media Corp. (LMCA)  said Thursday it would sell the majority of its 17% stake in the book retailer.

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: WH Smith PLC (SMWH)

WH Smith PLC is a United Kingdom-based retail company. The Company has two businesses divisions: Travel and High Street. The Company’s Travel division sells a range of newspapers, magazines, books and impulse products for people on the move and a broader convenience range in hospitals and workplaces. The Company’s High Street sells a wide range of stationery, books, newspapers, magazines and impulse products, as well as a small range of entertainment products.The Company’s subsidiaries include WH Smith PLC, WH Smith Retail Holdings Limited, WH Smith High Street Holdings Limited, WH Smith Travel Holdings Limited, WH Smith High Street Limited, WH Smith Travel Limited and WH Smith Hospitals Holdings Limited. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    Hays Plc (HAS) climbed 2.2 percent after the recruitment company said quarterly fees increased in its European markets. WH Smith Plc (SMWH) jumped the most in six months after raising its final dividend and saying it plans to repurchase an additional 50 million pounds ($80 million) of shares. Melrose Industries Plc (MRO) added 1.8 percent after KKR & Co. said it will pay about $1 billion for two of its U.S. industrial-products companies.

Best Specialty Retail Companies To Watch In Right Now: Firstin Wireless Technology Inc (FINW)

Firstin Wireless Technology, Inc., formerly Passionate Pet, Inc., incorporated on September 30, 2010, is a mobile service provider. The Company is a software-based mobile service provider that enables enterprises and business users to make affordable and business-quality international long distance and roaming calls over its hybrid mobile VoIP (HY-mVoIPTM) technology. Its service does not replace a user’s existing wireless service, it augments it with global communication capabilities. The Company’s application is free to download, and is available on Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Android smartphones.

The Company provides international long distance and roaming services to enterprises and business travelers over smartphones. Business users need to download the Firstin application onto their smartphones to allow them to place and receive international long distance and roaming calls from anywhere in the world for a fixed monthly fee and unlimited usage. The Co mpany intends to revolutionize business mobile communications by spearheading the enterprise mobile VoIP revolution allowing for anywhere, anytime, business-quality and low-cost voice and data communications over smartphones.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap stocks Bonamour Inc (OTCBB: BONI), Firstin Wireless Technology Inc (OTCMKTS: FINW) and Microchannel Technologies Corp (OTCBB: MCTC) have been attracting attention from variosu investment newsletters lately with at least two of these stocks being the subject of paid promotions. Of course, there is nothing wrong with properly disclosed paid promotions or investor relation types of activities as its up to investors and traders alike to do their due diligence. So how hot are these small cap stocks? Here is a quick reality check that might cool your appetite:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    A look at SofTech, Inc’s financials reveals revenues of $1,375k (most recent reported quarter), $1,558k, $1,458k and $1,772k for the past four quarters along with net losses of $266k (most recent reported quarter), $51k and $14k and net income of $252k. At the end of August, SofTech, Inc had $828k in cash to cover $2,717k in current liabilities and $5,445k in total liabilities. Given the recent Asset Purchase Agreement and the deal with lenders, it would be good to wait for some more financials to see how SofTech, Inc’s balance sheet has improved.

    Firstin Wireless Technology Inc (OTCMKTS: FINW) Has Been Quiet Since February

    Small cap Firstin Wireless Technology is a mobile communications company that is leading the shift to the enterprise mobile VoIP revolution through its mobile telephony platform and apps, including a flagship Firstin solution that allows for anywhere, anytime mobile communications at significant cost reductions. On Friday, Firstin Wireless Technology closed at $0.255 for a market cap of $8.57 million plus FINW is down 3,087.5% over the past year and down 78.7% since August 2011 according to Google Finance.