Week's Winners and Losers: Sirius Rocks, Wet Seal Shocks

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Wet Seal
thinkretail/FlickrUpset employees used store windows to express how they feel about Wet Seal's closures.
There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with the only game in town when it comes to satellite radio announcing a strong close to 2014 and a fading apparel retailer shutting down hundreds of stores.

DISH Network (DISH) -- Winner

The problem with kissing fat cable bills goodbye is giving up live sports programming, but that may no longer be an issue. DISH Network announced Sling TV, a streaming television service that offers a handful of channels -- including CNN, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network -- for $20 a month.

More important for sports buffs, Sling TV also comes with ESPN, ESPN2 and the NBA-happy TNT. It remains to be seen if a streaming service of live TV gains traction. Folks on limited data plans will go through a lot of bandwidth, and speedy connections will be necessary for high quality. However, it's the boldest step by a relevant provider to break up the silly bundling of channels that leads to folks paying for a ton of content that they have no interest in watching.

Sony (SNE) -- Loser

The annual International CES expo is typically more about winners in the realm of consumer electronics than losers, but it's hard not to knock Sony for introducing a new Walkman. The portable media player has plenty of slick features, including 128 gigs of storage and hi-resolution audio.

Unfortunately for the Japanese conglomerate, the Walkman NW-ZX2 is priced at a laughable $1,120. Sony has struggled to move gadgetry at much lower price points. It's going to be an uphill challenge to convince consumers that portable media players are worth four figures in any configuration.

Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) -- Winner

Satellite radio just keeps growing in popularity. Sirius XM announced on Wednesday that it closed out the year with 27.3 million subscribers, 1.75 million more than it had when the year began. Back in October it was only targeting 1.6 million net additions for all of 2014. Sirius XM is also pointing out that it will exceed its revenue and cash flow forecasts when it reports quarterly results in a few weeks.

Sirius XM initiated guidance for 2015. Some investors may be disappointed to see the premium audio leader only projecting 1.2 million net subscriber additions for the entire year, but this is a company that has historically been conservative with its outlooks. A year ago at this time it initiated guidance calling for just 1.25 million net new accounts through 2014.

Wet Seal -- Loser

With the peak holiday sales out of the way, some retailers aren't doing as well as others. Wet Seal announced on Wednesday that it would be closing nearly two-thirds of its stores. Shuttering 338 stores -- leaving just 173 locations open -- is a big retreat. With the stock trading for pocket change and the fading apparel chain possibly heading for bankruptcy protection, it's not a safe time to step up as an opportunistic investor in Wet Seal.

However, the real reason Wet Seal makes the cut as a loser this week is because some of the thousands of employees being let go didn't go down without a fight. Several stores let shoppers know that they would be closing down ahead of Wet Seal's announcement, putting up poster boards against store windows to air their grievances against the company.

Photos of the gripes posted at stores went viral on Instagram, Imgur, Reddit and other sites. From Birmingham to Seattle to several other stores, Wet Seal's blemished image darkened.

Ford (F) -- Winner

The automotive industry has been revving up in recent years, but will more efficient cars and improving mass transit and auto-sharing platforms eat into future sales? In a welcome show of confidence, Ford hiked its quarterly dividend by 20 percent to $0.15 a share on Thursday.

The move pushes Ford's yield to a healthy 3.9 percent, but it also conveys a positive message that Ford is comfortable enough about its near future to return more of its money to shareholders.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Sirius XM Radio. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Want to make 2015 a winning investment year? Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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