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Are Retail Stocks About To Get Plowed Under?

Investors are closely watching the 5-day financial forecast with a wicked winter storm threatening to bring parts of the Northeast to a standstill.

Warnings were issued Friday from the Carolinas and far eastern Tennessee to New Jersey and New England for a storm that could dump as much as two feet of snow.

And from the way it looks now, one of the hardest hit areas will be Wall Street.

Both literally and financially.

The blizzard potentially means shoppers will be snowed in on “Super Saturday” – the last Saturday before Christmas.

The storm is a huge net negative for business on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, says Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services for Planalytics.

It’s particularly problematic for retailers with a strong presence in the Northeast including Bon-Ton Stores , Kohl's Corp , American Eagle Outfitters and Macy's .

Super Saturday Snow
% Of Stores That Could See Snow Tomorrow

Kohl's 40%
TJ Maxx 36%
Macy's 35%
Target 31%
Wal-Mart 29%
Source: Planalytics

However one company’s loss may be another’s gain.

The storms may drive consumers online to sites such as Amazon , but Evan Gold said some shoppers will balk at the increased shipping fees needed to insure their purchases arrive by Christmas.

And retailers certainly are not in the clear once the weather passes.

Holiday sales forecasts have narrowed over the course of the shopping season to a range of down 1 percent to up 1 percent from 2008, when holiday sales fell for the first time since the National Retail Federation started tracking the data.

I don't think sales are going to be that great, but that's what everyone was expecting, speculates Madison Riley, managing director of North America for retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates.

What’s the retail trade?

I agree that the storm is going to create problems for the retailers, says Thomas Weisel analyst Liz Dunn.

But my top pick in the space remains Nordstrom into the holiday season, she says. I still think they see positive comps. And I think Macy’s sees positive comps for December.

And into 2010 I like Coach and Urban Outfitters.

I agree with long Macy’s, echoes Karen Finerman. I’m long.


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Trader disclosure: On Dec. 18th, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Pete Najarian Owns (M) Calls; Pete Najarian Owns (MS), Is Short (MS) Calls; Pete Najarian Owns (UUP) Call Spread; Pete Najarian Owns (MRVL); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IJR), (MDY), (SPY), (IWM), (UNG); Finerman Owns (AAPL); Finerman's Firm Owns (BCR), (M), (MSFT), (NOK), (TGT), (WMT); Finerman's Firm Owns (BAC) Preferred, (BAC), (BAC) Call Spread; Finerman Owns (BAC) Preferred, (BAC); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (WFC) Preferred; nerman's Firm And Finerman Own (FLS)

For Joe Terranova
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Terranova Is Chief Market Strategist Of Virtus Investment Partners, Ltd.
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