Keep this in mind: So starts earnings season for department stores on Thursday. From a stock perspective, the entire space has been destroyed this year. Macy's (M) shares are down 50%, J.C. Penney (JCP) has crashed 70%, and Nordstrom (JWN) has dived 20%. It's important to keep a few things in mind while assessing each company's results because executives will be doing their best to inject as much hope as possible. First, the sector is so fundamentally challenged due to the shift to digital shopping that there will be a bloodbath of new store closings in the first quarter of 2018. Expect another round of eye-popping announcements as executives try their best to slash costs amid stagnant sales. Secondarily, expect one of these chains to be bought out next year. With their shares torched and still valuable asset bases, strategic buyers could emerge. Who wouldn't want to own Macy's Herald Square, for example? 

Completely random thoughts: Allow TheStreet's Chris Nolter to explain what Tencent (TCEHY) is getting with its new 10% stake in struggling Snap Inc. (SNAP) . A source told Nolter that Tencent may see a day when Snap is being used by legions of folks in China. Tell that one to the Chinese government. TheStreet's Cathaleen Chen looks at who might buy the close to death meal-kit player Blue Apron (APRN) . Expect the company to be sold in 2018 because it will have no other choice. Boeing Co. (BA) , General Electric (GE) , Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) , Goldman Sachs (GS) and Ford Motor Co. (F) were a few names on the list of deals and contracts linked to Trump's China visit on Thursday, reported TheStreet's Martin Baccardax. GE could certainly use the cash. 

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This Guy Is a Winner

TheStreet broke the news on Wednesday that visionary Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich (watch video above of him for a dose of inspiration) will be stepping aside as CEO. I wish you were on the phone with him and I earlier in the day -- Shaich is a no-nonsense executive who is always thinking 25 years forward. It has been fascinating getting to know him through the years. Hence, I wasn't surprised when he told me that in semi-retirement he will be battling the concept of activist investing. I suspect he has a binder full of stats on why activist investing is dumb and value destroying over time. And I suspect he will be coming by our HQ sometime in the first quarter of next year to discuss. 

Another tidbit gleaned from our chat: JAB Holdings, the secretive European food conglomerate that bought Panera last year, is unlikely done buying U.S.-based restaurant assets. Shaich didn't come out and say this obviously, but it was my sense. Expect the company to make a big deal in 2018 -- gut instinct says it's Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) .

GE is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells GE? Learn more now.

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