Featured StoryThe bankruptcy of Hostess Brands is just the latest example of once-famous U.S. companies that have gone out of business.
History's dustbin is full of familiar brands that are now extinct, including Studebaker, Woolworth's and Braniff.
Analysts blame changing consumer tastes for the plunging sales of Wonder Bread and Twinkies that led to Hostess Brands' demise.
Most companies fail because management keeps trying to sell the same products, using the same marketing and business model, long after the products have hit the skids.
So which famous brands might not be around much longer?
The Next Hostess: Four U.S. Brands That Could DisappearHere are four U.S. brands that have fallen so far behind the competition they are in danger of disappearing in the near future.
1. Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD)
Sears has a proud history of pioneering markets and once dominated retail with its catalogs.
But in 2005, a buyout of Sears and discount retailer Kmart by fund manager Eddie Lampert spawned a spate of management missteps.
Sears and Kmart, with more than 3,000 stores in the United States, have been unable to compete against other low-cost retail chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT).
Sears sales have been on a downward spiral for years. In fact, Sears has posted 23 straight quarters of declining same-store sales.
Meanwhile, Lampert has shown himself to be remarkably tone-deaf.
He recently bought a $40 million home north of Miami about the same time Sears decided to sell 1,200 stores and close another 173.
In 2011, Sears' American Customer Satisfaction Index score was 76 out of 100. Only Wal-Mart received a lower score.
Stockholders have shown their dissatisfaction with Sears. Shares have declined from about $180 to the low $40's.
2. RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH)
At a time when more Americans are doing more of their shopping online, RSH clings to its traditional, brick-and-mortar retail store model.
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Hostess Brands Shutdown Halted as Company Asks for Bonuses
Hostess Brands doesn't want to go quickly - it's fighting to wind down operations over a year plus get permission to pay management bonuses.
It's "not a simple matter of turning off the lights and shutting the doors," Hostess said in court papers.
Hostess, one of the largest bakeries in the United States and owner of some of the most recognized brands in America, was shut down on Friday after striking workers belonging to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union ignored a management deadline and remained on the... Read More...
Hostess Brands Shutdown Highlights Looming Pension Crisis
Hostess Brands, the closely held maker of Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, Ho-Hos, Drake's Cakes and Wonder Bread, has announced that it will shut down all operations beginning today and liquidate the company's assets as soon as it receives permission from the bankruptcy court.
Hostess, which is in bankruptcy for the second time since 2004 and is now owned by a group of financial firms led by two hedge funds, had issued an ultimatum to striking bakers: Call off the strike by 5:00 p.m. Thursday or the company will be shut down. The strike persisted and the closure was announced Friday morning.
The Hostess Brands shutdown will mean the loss of 18,500 jobs nationwide. Hostess Brands operated 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 outlet stores.
"There's no way to soften the fact that this will hurt every Hostess Brands employee," CEO Gregory Rayburn said in a letter to employees. "All Hostess Brands employees will eventually lose their jobs - some sooner than others."
But the problems at Hostess go way beyond the company and its employees.
In fact, they're part of a national issue that undermines the entire U.S. economy.
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