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November 29, 2013

This is Mark Vickery covering for Sheraz Mian, who will be away on business until the second week of December.

Sure, there were doubters whether starting Black Friday a day early -- on the actual Thanksgiving holiday, and not waiting until midnight -- was going to be worthwhile. These people are now eating crow for breakfast (after turkey all day yesterday). Starting the retail holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving was an unmitigated success. For example, Walmart (WMT - Analyst Report) actually had 41,000 transactions per minute yesterday. Wow.

So expect this as a standard practice for the retail industry going forward, and perhaps the beginning of Thanksgiving as a holiday celebrated only by those with enough money to not have to work on that day. (The lesson here is, clearly: stay in school, kiddies.) That said, today is still Black Friday, when retailers across the spectrum see their first overall profits of the calendar year. How's your retail exposure?

This early period in holiday shopping season is necessarily skewed toward the big-box retailers, like Macy's (M - Analyst Report) and Target (TGT - Analyst Report), both of which also did well opening their doors on Thanksgiving. All three of these companies carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold); accelerated sales right at this very moment are already baked into the cake. And Amazon (AMZN - Analyst Report) and Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) can also be expected to stay busy for the next several weeks, and they have Zacks Rank #3s, too.

But here's a list of retailers you may wish to consider, either to increase your exposure to the retail space or replace some of your holdings that aren't really bringing home the goods.

Tiffany & Co. (TIF - Analyst Report), Activision Blizzard (ATVI - Snapshot Report) and The TJX Companies (TJX - Analyst Report) are all Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks, and each has received an upgrade from Hold in the past week. The high-end jeweler, video game maker and discount department retailer all posted positive earnings surprises in their most recent quarterly reports, most notably ATVI's 600% surprise (7 cents vs. 1 cent earnings per share).

But Northern department store Bon-Ton (BONT) and specialty furnishings retailer Kirkland's (KIRK - Analyst Report) are riding high with Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) designations. Both have also received upgrades in the past week, and both expect big numbers in their January quarters. Consider either or both if you're looking for more "pop" from your holiday shopping investments.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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