It sounds corny, but businesses that provide products and services that bring a little joy or happiness into people's lives can often be very successful investments. What more proof do you need: none other than Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), one of the most successful companies on the planet, promotes its beverages with the tag line "Coke Brings Joy." During these especially tough economic times, plenty of Americans are gravitating toward the simple pleasures in life in search of a temporary escape from reality. And where consumers go, investors are wise to follow.
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The Entertainment Factor
No matter the genre, movies provide an affordable way to escape. For under $10, you get a couple of hours of laughs, thrills or romance. Regal Entertainment Group is one of the largest movie theater companies in the U.S. As of December 30, 2010, Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC) operated 6,698 screens in 539 theaters in 37 states and the District of Columbia. One of the more intriguing and innovative entertainment companies is IMAX (Nasdaq:IMAX), which produces films that make you feel as if you are actually in the movie. Plus, from a valuation standpoint, IMAX looks to be the most attractive among its peers thanks to its lack of net debt and a P/E of 23.
If you want to move up the entertainment chain, no company has made it more of a mission to offer people fairy tales than Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS). While visits to Disney World are quite expensive relative to other entertainment options, Disney has an unbeatable catalog of films and TV networks in addition to its theme parks. One way or another, Disney has a way of attracting your entertainment dollar - especially if you have young children in the house. (For related reading, see Betting On The Entertainment Industry.)
The Sweet Side of Life
The candy business continues to thrive in this economy. Candy is an affordable luxury and many folks are loyal to their sweet tooths. Hershey (NYSE:HSY) remains the sole pure play candy company today, although Kraft (NYSE:KFT) may be the most attractive opportunity. Thanks to its acquisition of Cadbury, Kraft now has one of the most dominant candy franchises in the world. Trading at 14 times earnings and yielding 3.5%, Kraft is also one of the cheapest food/candy plays in the industry, making this stock all the sweeter for investors. (To learn more, see Wine And Chocolate: A Sweet Deal For Investors.)
Companies that offer simple pleasures in today's world are experiencing strong demand due to the tough times brought on by the weakened economy. A closer look at these types of companies may lead to a quality idea or two for investors.
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