Week's Winners, Losers: Vera Bradley, DirecTV Under Fire
Disney (DIS) -- Winner
Disney isn't afraid to use "the Force." The family entertainment giant announced plans to hit movie theaters next year with "Rogue One," the first of the promised movies based on the Star Wars universe including either secondary characters from the classic sci-fi saga or entirely new franchises.
The movie will be put out 12 months after the seventh Star Wars film hits a multiplex near you this holiday season. The eighth film in the series follows in the springtime of 2017. Disney has spent billions to acquire Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, and it keeps finding ways to milk more value out of the character-rich purchases.
Vera Bradley (VRA) -- Loser
Things aren't going well at Vera Bradley. The maker of colorful luggage and handbags for women tumbled after posting weaker-than-expected financial results for the holiday quarter, providing an outlook that's well short of where Wall Street was perched. Vera Bradley is also shutting down its U.S. manufacturing plant. The factory only made 5 percent of its products, but it's not going to be a popular move to justify the decision by pointing out that it costs nearly twice as much to make the same goods here as it does at its overseas plants.
The stock went on to hit new all-time lows on the news, and burned analysts have had enough. Wunderlich Securities lowered its rating on the stock, slashing its price target from $27 to $15. That hurts, especially for Wunderlich, which had reiterated its buy rating and its $27 price goal the day before Vera Bradley dropped its bombshell.
Dollar General (DG) -- Winner
Some retailers are retreating this year, but Dollar General is charging ahead. The deep-discounter is planning to open 730 new stores this year. It will also update 875 existing locations. Dollar General came up short in the bidding war for rival Family Dollar (FDO), but it's getting aggressive in an effort to grow organically instead.
DirecTV (DTV) -- Loser
The country's largest provider of satellite television is coming under fire. The Federal Trade Commission is alleging that DirecTV is behind deceptive advertising. The charge stems from DirecTV's plan when it offers a discounted 12-month package to new subscribers. The trick, according to the FTC, is that it's a two-year contract, forcing TV buffs to pay as much as $45 a month more during the second year or face up to $480 in cancellation fees.
There's also some head-shaking about the practice of including premium movie channels as a complimentary bonus in the DirecTV package that have to be proactively cancelled within a few months to avoid fatter satellite television bills.
Apple (AAPL) -- Winner
The market wasn't wowed by Monday's announcement about the Apple Watch, with some wondering if the smartwatch's 18-hour battery life would make it a deal breaker.
It should still be a hit. Folks also questioned whether consumers would take to the iPhone and iPad when they were introduced, and those two products initially hit the market at higher price points than the $350 starting price for the Apple Watch.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Looking for a winner for your portfolio? Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.