Table: Betting on Growth

As the going gets tough, some companies are seizing on the downturn to strengthen their positions. Among the strategies:

PRICE CUTS

The lowest production costs in the PC industry have allowed Dell Computer to slash prices and grab share from rivals Gateway, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard, even as it puts enormous pressure on their margins.

CAPITAL EXPANSION

A weak retail outlook? Not at Wal-Mart, which will open 415 stores over the next year in its most aggressive capital spending plan ever. Count on it gaining share over such weakened competitors as Kmart.

AGGRESSIVE MARKETING

Ad spending may be tanking most everywhere, but Sara Lee and Wendy's plan to boost ad outlays by 25% and 30% respectively. With media rates declining, they'll get an even bigger bang for their buck.

ACQUISITIONS

With asking prices falling, superstore chain Best Buy spotted a chance to plug a gap in its strategy by purchasing Canada's Future Shop and other retailers with electronics stores in smaller formats.

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