The Top 12 Brands Likely to Survive

Apr. 23, 2009 4:15 AM ETPLA, AXP, ZLC, SONY, LVB, SHLDQ, BID, KSWS, DELL-OLD, NYT, SKX, TREEV5 Comments
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A recent Seeking Alpha post surveyed The Top 12 Brands Likely to Disappear. While we don't disagree with any of the selections on that list, we believe it might be useful for investors to consider a list of brands that are currently under fire but appear likely to survive -- and eventually thrive. Investors who successfully invest in undervalued companies that own valuable brands should do quite well over time.

1. Playboy adult entertainment: The brand is owned by Playboy Enterprises (NYSE: PLA), which also owns the Playboy Mansion, a unique real estate property in Bel Air, California. Playboy is much more than a publishing business, with future value likely to come primarily from brand licensing. The latter is already a significant and growing generator of operating income. The company needs to reposition itself as a lifestyle company rather than a publishing business.

2. American Express payment cards: While American Express (NYSE: AXP) is close to the eye of the ongoing credit storm, the company appears to have sufficient liquidity to weather the storm. The brand remains strong, and the franchise enjoys sustainable competitive advantage, both with consumers and merchants. Having Warren Buffett and Bruce Berkowitz as major shareholders doesn't hurt, either.

3. Zale jewelry: Zale (NYSE: ZLC) has a leveraged balance sheet, but also substantial tangible book value backed by an appreciating asset -- jewelry. If inflation ever rears its ugly head, a company like Zale may help investors keep up, as the company's significant inventory would likely keep pace with consumer price increases.

4. Sony consumer electronics: The Japanese giant Sony (NYSE: SNE) enjoys one of the most recognized brand names in the world. With shares trading at a fraction of revenue and a low multiple of normalized earning power, Sony may not only thrive as a brand but may also reward investors for

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