Many Americans will mark Memorial Day 2013 as the day to celebrate an end to the recession as well as the arrival of summer. U.S. consumers may have learned some lessons from the financial crisis of recent years, yet there’s little evidence suggesting the American appetite for phones, cars and movies has dwindled. Here is a look at the companies attracting customers as summer kicks off.
The Galaxy S4, the flagship offering by Samsung, is the most widely recognized model running Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS and the one true scourge of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone. The phone has the imposing 8-core 1.8 Ghz processor and a full five-inch screen to go along a 13 megapixel camera. Samsung is celebrating this winning phone in the U.S. and overseas.
The highly anticipated HTC One delivered on many of its promises. It stacks up to the Galaxy S4 with its 1.7 Ghz CPU, but goes even bigger with 1080p (full HD) resolution screen. The One’s ability to shoot high-def video will encourage anyone who enjoys uploading quality YouTube clips, yet the 4 megapixel camera will be a turnoff to high-end buyers. HTC decided to stop stacking megapixels in order to improve the phone’s performance in dim lighting, which is a logical trade-off.
The dark horse in the smartphone race might be the Xperia Z by Sony. Stylish and powerful, there is little this double-sided glass smartphone can’t handle. Its imposing size might make it a turnoff for some, yet the 13 megapixel camera, quad-core 1.5 Ghz CPU (and 2 GB RAM) are exceptional. The catch is the Xperia Z only runs on 3G networks, while the ZL has 4G capabilities without the same glass-backed design.
As of May 2013, the two biggest U.S. automakers have pushed American cars into the lead in global market share, and Memorial Day Weekend sales will offer hints of what the rest of the year will bring.
With the world’s top selling Focus, Ford (NYSE:F) is on a roll. Its F-150 truck line is one of its best sellers domestically, and analysts expect pickup sales to continue apace as housing construction increases. With more EcoMax models rolling out of factories, Ford can expect its efficient cars to take center stage along with the 2013 Fusion Energi, the hybrid that recently garnered the top NHTSA safety rating.
Like Ford, General Motors (NYSE:GM) is celebrating a revival in sales figures, customer loyalty and stock prices at once. Having a 2014 Corvette Stingray serve as the Indy 500 pace car won’t hurt Chevy sales this weekend, while the 2014 Silverado looks to be the company’s answer to Ford’s popular F-150 line. Meanwhile, the Cadillac division continues to score for GM, and news of an electric Cadillac — the 2014 ELR — provides even more opportunity, provided luxury and conservation can find a way to coexist.
It wouldn’t be summer — and thus no Memorial Day would be necessary — unless Hollywood came out with a few blockbusters. The 2013 titans are re-boots of enduring franchises: one action, one comedy.
Universal: Fast & Furious 6
The latest installment of this explosive car-chase franchise from Universal Studios (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is garnering good reviews and racking up the box office as expected (close to $100 million was in as of Sunday evening). Favorite cast members Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez are back in their respective driver’s seats for the sixth offering, directed by Justin Lin.
Warner Bros: The Hangover III
The return of the Wolfpack, the crew that delivered a surprised hit for Warner Bros (NYSE:TWX) with the original “The Hangover,” should have meant great things in its second and third offerings. Unfortunately for fans and investors, the sequels lack the originality that made the initial Todd Phillips offering so appealing. While reviews suggest the third installment outshines “The Hangover II” in cleverness, the movie is underperforming some expectations. Still, more than $65 million in a weekend won’t make anyone feel sorry for the studio.
The beginning of this summer may mark the final chapter in a long economic drought. These companies are finding the consumers who vote with their wallets, which remains the American way.