It's been a great year for Limited Brands (LTD) in 2012 -- shares of the $15 billion retailer have rallied close to 28% since the first trading day in January. Limited owns a portfolio of popular retail store concepts that include Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, and White Barn Candle -- all names that are due for long lines this month as U.S. malls get swarmed on by consumers.
Limited owns an attractive space in the specialty retail business, with minimal overlap -- there's little in common between the firm's crown jewel Victoria's Secret apparel business and its Bath & Body Works, for instance. While LTD has significant exposure to U.S. malls, it's been working on expanding its reach abroad lately. That exposure should help to provide meaningful top line growth in spite of anxiety over consumer spending here at home.
Limited has been making some tough, but smart decisions in the last few years, opting to sell off its namesake The Limited unit to improve financial performance. While unloading a firm's eponymous arm is a tough move to justify, it's proving to be the right one. That's thanks largely to management ownership of shares; with LTD's founder still holding a material stake in the firm, management incentives are in line with shareholders' interests.LinkedIn LinkedIn (LNKD - Get Report) is one of the more unlikely names on this week's list. While LinkedIn's class of tech IPOs was largely a disappointment, this social networking site for professionals has bucked the trend by delivering strong performance and strong profits in 2012. So far, shares have rallied more than 74% this year. LinkedIn has been growing at a breakneck pace, boasting more than 130 million users at last count. The firm's niche as a social networking site for professional connections is critical -- it gives LNKD a direct line to generating revenue by offering premium tools to help find and fill jobs, and it has been attracting droves of job-seekers in the wake of prolonged high unemployment following the Great Recession. The ability to make revenue generation tie into the site's user experience (and not detract from it) has been a rarity for recent tech IPOs, and it's the key difference for LinkedIn that's kept sales climbing at a breakneck pace.