"We continue to think WMT has legs into the mid-60s in the near term given the momentum in the core U.S. division, persistent strength at Sam's, and improved profitability in International (on the latter, 2012 is a "digestion year" with margins the focus and no major acquisitions expected)," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a May 18 report. "The company's effort to re-embrace the core message of the brand in the U.S. (i.e., price and assortment leadership) are resonating with customers and driving trip frequency (with traffic accelerating from 75 bps to 110 bps sequentially). We have yet to anniversary the completion of the SKU add-back process, which was finished in November last year. Besides overall traffic, the fruits of their efforts can be seen (along with some weather) in the apparel comp, which was positive for the first time in years. We expect the trends in the core division to be the primary driver of the stock, in addition to International profitability, as these have the greatest impact to EPS upside."
Shares of Wal-Mart hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $65.76. The stock's 52-week low of $48.31 was set on Aug. 10.Wal-Mart trades at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 12.24 times; the average for broad-line retailers is 17.61. For comparison, Target (TGT) has a lower forward P/E of 11.82. Eighteen of the 24 analysts who cover Wal-Mart rated it hold. Fifteen analysts gave the stock a buy rating and one rated it sell. The stock has risen 9.54% year to date.
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