These Stocks Not Named Nintendo Could Benefit From Pokémon Go
Investors hungry to find a way to profit from the Pokémon Go craze got burned last month buying shares of Nintendo, which have plunged 27% since the company admitted it had a limited stake in revenue from the game.
Niantic Labs, the game’s creator, is still a private company, but Wall Street has a few new ideas for publicly-traded companies that might benefit from the vast hoards of virtual monster chasing Pokémon fans.
Most directly, specialty retailer Five Below (FIVE) is in line to benefit from growing nostalgia for Pokémon, says UBS analyst Michael Lasser.
Best known for selling the trendiest gewgaws and collectibles desired by teenagers across the country—certainly the best place in America to buy a new pack of Silly Bandz Sea Creatures—the 430-store chain also sells a variety of Pokemon-related merchandise.
Lasser and his team checked in with 25 Five Below stores and found 19 were already carrying Pokémon-related inventory such as game cards, activity books, and toys, with more items on the way.
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“Our checks suggest FIVE stores will soon start receiving a broader array of Pokémon products within the month, showing how quickly it can respond to these trends when they materialize,” Lasser wrote in a research report on Friday. “Further, it’s used Pokémon branding in its ads to support its traffic. These factors should deliver some near-term momentum.”
Another area benefiting indirectly from the Pokémon craze is companies that make or sell portable power supplies to recharge smartphones on the go. Sales of portable power packs suddenly more that doubled in the two weeks after Pokémon Go was released in the U.S. on July 6 compared to the same two weeks last year, market tracker NPD Group reported.
“Pokémon Go is the summer’s hottest game partly because it utilizes features like location, motion sensors, and augmented reality in your smartphone—however, these features consume more of the phone’s battery life,” Ben Arnold, industry analyst for consumer technology at NPD, said in a statement accompanying the report. “As a way to compensate for the extra battery usage, consumers are buying portable power packs so they can continue to play, uninterrupted.”
Stocks that could benefit include Best Buy (BBY), which sells power packs under in-house and third-party brands, along with leading power pack makers Morphie, owned by Zagg (ZAGG), and Energizer (ENR).
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Finally, there’s also an investment play floating around that some restaurant chains like McDonald’s (MCD) will boost sales by partnering with Pokémon Go creator Niantic to add their locations to the game. Players need to find PokeStops to refill supplies of Pokeballs and PokeGyms to battle with other players’ monsters. McDonald’s has already struck a deal in Japan to host sponsored game stops at 3,000 outlets and a U.S. deal could follow. Niantic CEO John Hanke has said he’s open to more location-based sponsorships, as well.
But the restaurant play could be tough for investors to win. There’s not much evidence yet that Pokémon players would buy enough extra burgers and fries to make much difference on McDonald’s bottom line. And the restaurant industry can be buffeted by all sorts of macroeconomic factors, everything from the price of gasoline to the rate of disposable income growth.