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Third Quarter's Ménage à Trois Can Excite Investors, Too

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The third quarter is like no other for retailers. It contains three distinct selling seasons: summer, back to school and Halloween.

Planning and executing on this menage a trois of selling seasons presents risks and opportunities for retailers and, as a result, for investors, too.

I think there are some retailers who might falter, and a few that might, ahem, come out on top with upside to their revenue and earnings per share forecasts. The e-commerce bellwethers eBay (EBAY) and Amazon.com (AMZN) are likely to benefit from increased Internet shopping.

With the economy still sluggish and gasoline prices above $4 per gallon in many parts of the country, shoppers will look to cut costs by taking advantage of free shipping offers and online discounts. Amazon, in particular, is well-positioned to capitalize on the back-to-school season with physical and online textbook rentals.

Apple (AAPL), too, should benefit from the back to back selling seasons. Rumors of an iPhone 5 and the potential for a mini iPad would open up a bigger market.

Moreover, to paraphrase Apple CEO Tim Cook at a recent conference, "the education space offers Apple more opportunity than anything we've ever seen." Don't forget, Apple is getting ready to pay its first dividend later this week, adding some to boost its already impressive returns.

Finally, Staples (SPLS), the office supply chain, earns very high margins on some of the staples of back-to-school season -- pens, pencils, calendars, ink, even paper clips. The shares have gotten beaten up as competition has hurt sales over the past two quarters.

But, for patient investors, a 3.2% dividend and P/E below 10 make this an attractive entry point.

Of course, back-to-school also means new clothing for the kids. I'm far from a fashion guru but I know that when droves of teenage girls head to a single destination, the retailer got the right mix.

This season, it appears that True Religion Apparel (TRLG) has the right mix. After a difficult 2011, and a significant earnings miss in the fourth quarter, the stock remains down over 30% from a year ago.

Quarter one and quarter two earnings and revenue have beaten analysts' expectations, but the stock hasn't rebounded. However, if my 12-year old neighbor and her friends are any indication, things might just turn around for the company over the next few months.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Oliver Pursche is President of Gary Goldberg Financial Services, a boutique money management firm located in Suffern, NY. Additionally, Mr. Pursche is the Co-Portfolio Manager for the GMG Defensive Beta Fund, and a Founding Partner of Montebello Partners, llc. In his role as President of GGFS, and as a member of the GGFS Investment Committee, Mr. Pursche helps oversee the investment portfolio of over 2000 clients with over $500 million dollars in assets. Mr. Pursche frequently provides market and economic commentary on CNBC and Fox Business News, as well as often being interviewed by The Financial Times, US News and World Report, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the Associated Press regarding his and the firms views on the latest market news and events. Mr. Pursche's views on the market and investment strategies have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Smart Money, USA Today and other national business publications. In addition to writing for TheStreet.com, he is also a weekly contributor on Forbes.com and BankRate.com. His daily market commentary can be read at www.betafundcommentary.com or you can listen to him on www.financialtalkshow.com weekdays at 10:00 AM.

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