The economy appears to be a mixed bag. On one hand, we are seeing GDP growth and a gradual improvement in the jobs picture. On the other hand, gas and food price increases negatively impact consumer cash flow.
Huge discount retailer Wal-Mart (WMT) should be enjoying a strong operating season with such an environment. Consumers attracted to discounts can be expected to drive profit growth for the near future. Investors are not convinced.Wal-Mart has slipped in value from a year peak of nearly $58 per share. Today shares are fetching around $52.90 per share. At the current price the company trades for approximately 12 times the 2012 profit estimate of $4.40 per share. For the quarter that will end April 30, analysts expect Wal-Mart to earn 95 cents per share. Given the tightness of consumer budgets I expect a beat of that number. Anything less would be considered a disappointment and disconcerting for the overall economy. Wal-Mart, which recently increased its dividend, is one of the 20 highest-yielding retail stocks and another of George Soros' top stock buys.
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