Tuesday, February 10, 2009

List cites restaurant companies among the near-dead

Six SeekingAlpha.com contributors have collaborated on what amounts to a dead pool of consumer brands: “15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009.” Regulars on the heavily trafficked site won’t be surprised to see Krispy Kreme on that critical list, given how much skepticism its turnaround efforts have met. Landry’s may not prompt a lot of visitors to fall out of their chairs, either. But Sbarro?

“It’s not the pizza that’s the problem,” writes lead author Rick Newman, whose day job is serving as chief business correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. Rather, he says, “many of this chain’s 1,100 storefronts are in malls, which is a double whammy.” A drop in retail traffic has thinned the eastern pizza specialist’s stream of potential customers, Newman explains. And without streetside facings, it can’t embrace some of the traffic draws that work for fast-food competitors, like snacks or breakfast.

The list is based on a review by Newman and his collaborators of Moody’s ratings of various bondholders, as well as unspecified other factors. The list was published on Sunday. Two days later, one of the cited companies is already flat-lining. Sirius XM, the subscription radio service, was reported today to be preparing for a bankruptcy filing.

Other familiar names on the death watch roster include Chrysler, Rite Aid, Blockbuster and Six Flags.

Of course, just publishing a list of companies you expect to go under can hasten the process. And no doubt some Old Media defenders will be citing the posting as a prime example of why blogging is the handiwork of Satan.

But there’s still the question of why the various companies cited haven’t posted comments challenging their designation of being not quite dead.

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