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By Jason Stipp | 12-31-2010 01:05 PM

Five Resolutions From Corporate America

Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser contemplates the likely 2011 to-do list at Toyota, the retailers, Comcast, Apple's competitors, and airlines.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five.

Although a lot of people take vacation around this time of the year, Corporate America is already looking ahead to 2011.

And although we can't know for sure, Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser has a short list of probable resolutions floating around the executive suite. And he's here to share them with us today.

Thanks for joining me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason. You know the Friday Five is always a vacation for me.

Stipp: What do you have for us this week?

Glaser: Well, we're going to take a look at resolutions from Toyota, from the retail industry, from Comcast, from all of the non-Apple consumer electronics firms, and finally, from the airline industry.

Stipp: Given the kind of year Toyota had, they might want to think about how next year might be, how it could be improved. What do you think is on their shortlist for resolutions?

Glaser: Toyota did not have a very good 2010, although the recall got overshadowed by the BP oil spill and by other things going on in the marketplace, it really had a big impact on consumers. They saw sales decline. They had to offer really pretty substantial discounts to get people to continue to look at the cars, to prove that they are safe, to offer extra warranty services, to do all of these things, and they still haven't completely gotten rid of the cloud surrounding Toyota, surrounding their quality-control issues.

I think for 2011 their resolution is certainly going to be to get over that as quickly as possible, and to gain their reputation for quality back. Is this something that they can do in a year? Probably not. But with General Motors and Ford really firing on all cylinders again, and starting to produce cars that certainly people in the United States and abroad actually want to drive, [Toyota] is not going to have the easy market share gains that they had before. It's going to be difficult to get back to that top spot in terms of quality. It's going to be something they're going to work on--definitely a good resolution for them.

Stipp: Here at the end of 2010, we saw the consumer actually opened the wallet a little bit around the holiday season. This probably is a good sign for retailers. They want to carry that into next year. What do you think is on the resolution list for all those stores out there?

Glaser: It's a great sign for the retailers; it's also a great sign for the rest of the economy as consumer spending is really quite important. But the retailers are going to need to work a lot on getting people off of discounts and getting people to stop looking for massive discounts on inventory and just thinking, "well, if I wait another week, another two weeks, it's going to 50% off, 75% off."

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