Schaeffer's Outside the Box Blog
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Greetings from the gas-and-power deprived swamps of Jersey -- formerly known as the suburbs.

We were relatively lucky during Sandy. Lost power for four days and TV and Internet for five, but no serious damage, save for a tree that fortunately landed on another tree. Nothing makes you appreciate your normal life as much as having it gone and not really being sure when it's coming back.

It is still kind of bizarro world, but you know what they say -- you haven’t lived until you stand out in the cold for a couple of hours with a gas can, anxious that they will run out before you get to fill up. Half of my town is still waiting to get power back on. That will help the gas situation (as people put the generators back in mothballs), but on the flip side, you need to drive twice as far for everything as there are still trees and power lines blocking roads everywhere.

Thankfully, we didn’t get a particularly large rain here, as part of my town sits on a small river that becomes a large river with nowhere to go. So at some point, the lights will all go back on and the roads will clear and the gas lines will go away and we’ll just have the memories of a lousy week, but relatively light damage. Not so much for Jersey shore towns. Hearts go out to all that have lost way, way, more -- it's pretty unimaginable.

I really can’t offer much options insight for the past week and the next of couple days going forward; I've pretty much been on a business-news blackout. But I can offer something I generally abhor -- a list of stocks/companies that are going to get a spike in business thanks to the conditions on the ground around these parts.

Anything resembling a supermarket: six million people in the area lost power, which means something like two million fridges and freezers lost most of their contents. That’s a lot of milk and eggs and ketchup and jelly and whatever they're replacing. They powered up supermarkets and shopping centers in general pretty quickly, which kind of makes some sense in that you’d have a total panic if there was no food around. Places like Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) and Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) got up and running pretty quickly and were mob scenes. Local markets like Shop Rite, Kings and Stop and Shop were also flooded with business (not sure of the parent companies, though I think Royal Ahold owns Stop and Shop).

Home Depot (NYSE:HD): It was mobbed before the storm, with every generator and heavy duty extension cord and window guard and D battery flying off the shelves. And it's going to stay mobbed with all the repairs going on.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): They seemed the quickest to get gas back at the pump. Word is they got their refinery up to speed the fastest. I have no idea if that’s a rumor or a well-known factoid. I waited on a line there for 2.5 hours on Saturday and the cop (yes, we have police running the gas lines) said they had enough gas to pump until 4:00 a.m. (it was 2:30 p.m. when i asked).

Dunkin Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN): One of these managed to reopen once the storm passed. Of course, we have about 27 Dunkin Donuts within three miles of my house, so that’s probably just a law-of-averages thing. I doubt this one store will impact the bottom line at all, but whoever owns the franchise probably did quite nicely; the line for coffee ran out the front door and all the way to the other side of the strip mall.

Anyway … it's great to be back. I will get more up to speed as the week goes on.

Disclaimer: The views represented on this blog are those of the individual authors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.


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