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Attention Wal-Mart Investors! It's Earnings Time

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earnings season is just about over and some of the biggest names are about to report market-moving earnings.

Look for strong growth in Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Cisco is always a favorite of mine to pay attention to, and Staples should provide an idea of how small business is coping in general as we approach the highest expected tax increase on business since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT - Get Report)

Background: Wal-Mart trades an average of eight million shares per day with a market cap of $249.9 billion. I love the stock, but don't enjoy shopping there unless I want to buy something late at night.

52-Week High: $75.24

52-Week Low: $49.28

Book Value: $20.31

Price To Book: 3.36

The company is anticipated to report strong earnings before the market opens on Thursday. The consensus estimate is currently $1.17 a share, an improvement of 8 cents (6.8%) from $1.09 during the same period last year. Look for a beat of at least 1 cent to 2 cents.

Analyst opinion is mixed. Most of the analysts surveyed don't believe a buy or a sell should be made at this point. Right now, WMT has 11 buy recommendations out of 23 analysts covering the company, and zero recommend selling. Short sellers agree, and less than 2% of the float is short.

Wal-Mart is the first of two companies in this article that are in a strong bullish trend. The moving averages are moving higher and shareholders are happy. Trend followers love this pattern and will hold a position until a technical break results in a signal to exit. TheStreet'sJim Cramer writes about retailers in The Amazing Sector of Retail (You need a Real Money Pro account to read, but any serious investor should have one.)

The trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is 16.1, the mean fiscal year estimate price-to-earnings ratio is 15.2, based on earnings of $4.91 per share this year.

Wal-Mart currently pays $1.59 per share in dividends for a yield of 2.14%. Examining the dividend history of a company is a great way to help understand what we may expect in the future. Of course, the past doesn't guarantee future dividends, but it does paint a useful picture. The three-year average amount it has distributed to shareholders per year is $1.25.

WMT Revenue Growth Chart WMT Revenue Growth data by YCharts

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