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J.C. Penney Crashed, Best Buy Is Next

Stocks in this article: JCPAAPLBBYAMZN

As stocks go, it's been much easier to ride BBY's wave than JCP's. While JCP twisted and turned, BBY has, for all intents and purposes, done nothing but go up. Year-to-date we're talking a 222% increase, as of Friday's close.

Consider this a gift from the rigged market TheStreet's Herb Greenberg and Jim Cramer passionately discussed last week.

Ride that wave. Like Cramer says, play the game. Take what these whacked-out market forces give you. But do be careful.

Examine the retail sector. Break it down into compartments.

There's the end all and be all of online retail -- Amazon.com (AMZN). Whether the company turns a profit or not means very little with respect to its dominance over Best Buy. There are the specialty cases, a group that includes Apple. And then there are the sterile brick-and-mortar guys like JCP and BBY who, under their current regimes, have very little, if any, chance at long-term success.

Like JCP, Best Buy has shown us nothing new beyond a dressed-up regurgitations of retail's same old tricks the company called Renew Blue.

A re-commitment to customer service. More stores within a store than you can shake a price scanner app at. Slashing prices. Burning the expense side of the balance sheet with a blow torch. These tactics work until they don't work anymore.

And soon enough they'll blow up in Best Buy's face. They'll be back where they started, facing the same set of problems that got their heads handed to them by Amazon in the first place.

I meant that when I said it last week.

Just because stores exist where you can browse and possibly purchase consumer electronics today doesn't mean they can, need to or will exist tomorrow. At some point, you have to completely and entirely disrupt yourself or come to terms with the likely reality that humanity has passed by the specific sector you operate in.

Apple already created and perfected the Apple Store; you're not going to recreate anything even near as successful.

Compare it to your own life or your son's or daughter's, particularly if you or they are coming up during this time when so many people go through multiple careers.

When the factories were closing down around them, the survivors did something. They went out and got an education, learned a new skill, opened their own business. Something, anything to keep the world from passing them by. We can cut examples from other cloths all day long.

Bottom line -- until we're meaningfully shown otherwise, JCP's demise should serve as an augury of what lies ahead for Best Buy. Corporate death followed by more corporate death. These stocks will do whatever they do, but remember, there's often a major disconnect between what happens on Wall Street and what's happening inside a dysfunctional company.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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