Week's Winners, Losers: Authors Sign for Barnes & Noble

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Nick Ut/APHillary Rodham Clinton has signed copies of her book for Barnes & Noble.
There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with the last major bookstore chain landing some star power to make its holiday sales ring up and a renter of movies and games on discs playing Grinch with a seasonally silly price hike. Here's a rundown of the week's smartest moves and biggest blunders.

Twitter (TWTR) -- Loser

It seems that a week doesn't go by without a company making a social media mistake, usually in the form of posting a controversial or insensitive tweet. This week it was Twitter itself that blew it.

Twitter CFO Anthony Noto posted a public tweet on Monday that apparently was intended as a private direct message to somebody. "We should buy them," he writes, likely discussing an unnamed acquisition target, and pointing to a mid-December meeting. "We will need to sell him," he concludes. "I have a plan."

It's good to know that even Twitter is human.

Apple (AAPL) -- Winner

It's a safe bet that Apple's going to be selling plenty of iPads, Macs, and iPhones this holiday shopping weekend, and at least one analyst wants to get in ahead of the customers.

Susquehanna's Chris Caso is raising his price target on Apple from $120 to $135, encouraged by the improving production and sales trends of the pricier iPhone 6 Plus. The larger smartphone sells for $100 more than the comparable iPhone 6, but it doesn't cost that much more to make. In other words, Apple scores a larger profit from the iPhone 6 Plus than the iPhone 6.

Redbox -- Loser

It's going to cost a little more to check out a DVD, Blu-ray, or video game from a Redbox machine. Parent company Outerwall (OUTR) announced this week that it's raising its rates. The daily-rental rates will go from $1.20 to $1.50 for DVDs, from $1.50 to $2 for Blu-ray discs, and from $2 to $3 for video games.

The market applauded the move by sending the stock higher on the announcement, but are we forgetting that Redbox was having a hard time growing its rental business at the old rate? Outerwall's latest quarter found Redbox rentals declining 13.7 percent over the prior year's period. Making rentals even more expensive is only going to drive more video buffs to digital and on-demand rentals.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) -- Winner

Leave it to the last remaining major book superstore chain to come up with a novel way to drum up traffic. Barnes & Noble is making Black Friday interesting by offering 500,000 signed editions of more than 100 books available exclusively at its stores.

We're talking about famous authors including Dan Brown and Anne Rice, but also celebrity writers including Amy Poehler, George W. Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Joel Osteen. This should bring some serious buzz back to the booksellers that normally sit out the early days of the holiday shopping season.

Barbie -- Loser

Barbie's reign atop the National Retail Federation's annual survey of most coveted toys has come to an end. Mattel's (MAT) Barbie has topped the list since it began tracking parent holiday purchasing intentions 11 years ago, but this time the pole position belongs to Disney's (DIS) "Frozen" franchise.

One in five parents plan to buy "Frozen" items for their daughters, beating out Barbie, which will be on the shopping list of 17 percent of parents. Let's just hope that we never have to buy a Malibu Anna or an Elsa Beach House.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Mattel, Twitter, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Barnes & Noble, Twitter, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Want to make 2015 your best investing year ever? Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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