This Medical Device Maker Is A Company That Lets You Sleep and Toy Makers Back In The Game As Strong Q4 Sales Lift Shares

Snorers often suffer sleep apnea, a condition where they stop breathing momentarily, perhaps dozens of times per hour.

ResMed’s (RMD) masks, which gently force air in, keeping airways open during sleep, aren’t pretty either. But they’re an effective way to treat apnea and deliver a night’s rest.

Awareness of the problem helped ResMed surprise on top and bottom lines in its latest quarter. That helped drive shares to their highest mark in almost three years.

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Now the company is trying to roll out improved models and continue getting the word out to doctors and other health care professionals, who typically recommend or prescribe the company’s product.

“Our sweet spot is the ability to help health care providers manage chronic disorders in a cost-effective manner, at home, away from expensive acute-care facilities,” CEO Kieran Gallahue told IBD.

The company markets and sells its products in more than 70 countries. [Read the full article]

That was the case much of last year. U.S. toy sales fell 8% to 10% during the first three quarters of 2009, according to estimates from the Toy Industry Association (TIA), a New York-based trade group.

Many top toy manufacturers, including Mattel (MAT), Leapfrog Enterprises (LF) and Jakks Pacific (JAKK), watched sales skid hard during the first nine months of the year.

But then something unexpected happened. The industry made up most of the lost ground during the fourth quarter, as a strong holiday season left U.S. toy sales basically flat for 2009, TIA says.

U.S. unit sales rose 4% in the quarter, market researcher NDP Group estimates, though it pegged full-year sales down 1% at $21.47 billion.

“Because Christmas was so much better than expected, many retailers ended up with empty shelves. That has caused them to loosen up a bit in their ordering this year,” said Carter Keithley, president of TIA. [Read the full article]

Buckeye GP Holdings (BGH) hedged its bets too, adding a natural gas storage facility in California to its eastern U.S. and Midwest petroleum pipeline network.

A new ethanol tank at Buckeye’s Rochester, N.Y., terminal. The company operates a network of refined-petroleum and natural gas pipelines. Buckeye… View Enlarged Image

The government and independent analysts generally don’t think pipeline volumes will pick up dramatically in the near term. Buckeye itself is predicting mere stabilization.

But the company says efficiency improvements and best-practice reforms initiated in 2009 should save it $18 million a year. It’s also decentralizing some decision-making to better serve clients and pushing higher-margin energy services operations.

“Now, I can’t stress enough that we are not just merely cutting cost. That’s not always productive,” Forrest Wylie, chairman and CEO, told investors during the fourth-quarter conference call. [Read the full article]

“Wake up with a sore back? Tossing and turning all night? When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep?”

“How much would you pay for a good mattress?” the ad would then ask. “Would you pay $500? $1,000?”

It’s right about here, as TV insomniacs know, that the price starts coming down. “Would you believe just $400 to get the best night’s sleep you’ve had in years?”

Even as many sellers of luxury items scratch and claw for a piece of tighter consumer budgets, Tempur-Pedic is promising a good night’s sleep. And raising prices.

In November, it introduced its new Cloud Supreme for $1,999. (“But wait. You could pay more.”) Within two months, it announced it would raise prices by a whopping $300.

“Still not spending enough? How about the Cloud Luxe, available later this year for just $3,599?”

With Tempur-Pedic at the top of the pile, mattresses have somehow evolved into a luxury item. [Read the full article]

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