MINNEAPOLIS ( Stockpickr) -- I had the opportunity to take my 7-year-old daughter clothes shopping recently. It is one of my favorite parenting activities. I enjoy watching her discover her own style and helping her pick out different outfits, and I appreciate the smile on her face when carrying the packages from the store.Her favorite store is Justice, but we spent most of our time at J.C. Penny ( JCP). She loves the brand, but I love the discounts. Anything with a peace sign on it caught her eye. I didn't realize she had become such a beatnik. The preteen or tween retail space is red hot. Granted it was during the still after the holiday flurry of bargains, but I was surprised at how crowded the stores were. From a stock perspective I guess that should have been expected. Retail stocks have been some of the best performers during the past year. The S&P retail index was up more than 30% in 2010, greatly exceeding the performance of the overall market. That strength came from strong consumer spending throughout the year. Related: 3 Ways to Play the Facebook Craze Several names in the retail space dropped significantly in early January when December sales numbers failed to impress. Had stocks in the group reached a peak or was the news an excuse to take a pause before extending the impressive 2010 returns? It will not be enough to own a broad swath of the industry in 2011. Instead, investors in teen retail need to be selective. It will be a stock picker's market in the coming year. Here are three names to consider. Ascena Retail Group If my daughter has any instincts on trends, I would say the future for Justice owner Ascena Retail Group ( ASNA), which operates some 900 Justice stores as well as Dress Barn and Maurices, is a good place to start. I'd never heard of Justice before my daughter brought the name to my attention. I was impressed. Ascena Retail Group Shares of ASNA did not fare as well as the rest of the group in 2010. Its shares were up approximately 12% for the year. They gave up some of that gain in early January but have since recovered.
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