AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) now has 800,000 new daytime readers who may actually be using desktops or tablets at home without any time constraints. AOL has no government business to speak of and it is still considered a top online destination that is focused on America more than anywhere else. AOL should have no incremental cost increase at all and should have a wider audience. The government shutdown could be an incremental traffic driver for the company. If you know much about web traffic and advertising trends, it may even help the gain that much more for online ad spending trends that the shutdown came at the first of the month rather than late in the month. One could easily make the same argument for Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) as well, but we will consider it a runner-up for simplicity and because it is more global.
Church & Dwight Co. Inc. (NYSE: CHD) is more expensive on a P/E ratio than other consumer products companies, but this one has been the beneficiary of its adult-oriented products and other household items. There were reports all over during the recession that unemployed people were having much more sex than people who had to work all the time, so with a week off or couple weeks off it seems more than logical that many of these 800,000 workers will be using more Trojan brand products than normal during the time they are off.
Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CNK) stands to all of a sudden get a new influx of those 800,000 day-trippers at the movies. If temporarily out of work employees want to do something new during the weekday that does not involve shopping or drinking, perhaps they will flock to the movie theaters for a matinée. So what if the popcorn and sodas are overpriced. At least it is a cheap outing for one or two people. Is it any coincidence that Cinemark shares just hit yet another all-time high?
Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) is the king of dollar stores, and therefore is the king of the “trade-down economy” in retail. If people still have to buy their necessities and other household items, it is easy to argue that 800,000 more people who have to buy things with a more cost-budget mentality until the paychecks start flowing again could be forced into being dollar store shoppers. This is a growing theme for the next decade, even without a government shutdown.
Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) just has to be getting more at-home lunch deliveries. Most government workers like to (or are forced to) eat out at lunch, so they are not ordering in as much delivery lunches like independent business people. All of these carry-out deals for $5.99 and $7.99 have to be appealing now during the lunch hour to 800,000 or so furloughed workers. Domino’s is far from luxury and it is not exactly a place that might see a drop from drivers on the way to or from their government jobs.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) should also get a boost, although Facebook has more international users than it does in America. Government workers now do not have to only Facebook on their smartphones during the day. Another 800,000 or so Facebook users can brag endlessly about what they are doing on their time off during the week. We would even predict more hamburger (or pizza) lunch photos will be posted this week by the public, just what everyone needs to see (or not).
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (NASDAQ: SBGI) is perhaps a winner more than any other media company. Cable companies and other media companies could have higher operating costs, and there may be fewer in-car radio listeners without government workers on the road. So if they are staying home and want to be couch potatoes, doesn’t a broadcast TV station owner get the biggest benefit? Sinclair has 162 television stations in 77 markets (after pending deals) and its TV group reaches approximately 38.7% of US television households and includes FOX, ABC, MyTV, CW, CBS, NBC, Univision and Azteca affiliates. Shouldn’t they have higher ratings all of a sudden during the day now?