This column was originally published on RealMoney on Aug. 16 at 10:13 a.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
They have to be kidding us at
. They are doing it again. Once again, Wal-Mart
reports a disappointing quarter and then once again, it says that the earnings in the future will increase "at a stronger pace." Do you know how many times Wal-Mart has played this game? Do you know how many times Wal-Mart has said that things are going to get better after reporting a disappointing quarter?
Just so you don't think I am making this up, consider what I wrote about Wal-Mart after it reported its last quarter, May 12:
Today, Wal-Mart reports its umpteenth shortfall. Once again, the culprit is a combination of excessive forecasting enthusiasm by the company. Once again, after disappointing, the company comes out and says the second half will be better. It always says that, too.
Sure enough, that's exactly what's happening. Another disappointing quarter. Another prediction that things are about to get better.
Honestly, if Wal-Mart
wants its stock to stop flatlining -- this is exactly where the stock was when it reported its last quarter, despite phenomenal runs by almost every other major retailer -- it is going to have to say that it sees the future as no better than the past. It has to stop assuming that things will have to get better just because they always have, because, frankly, for the last five years, they haven't.
Today I thought that Wal-Mart would take the opportunity to own up to its core weaknesses. The fact that it hasn't tells me that we will now have to wait another three months to see if Wal-Mart at last admits what we all know: Wal-Mart simply isn't a fun place to go, and that
lowest price isn't the only driver anymore.
Instead of looking at itself, though, Wal-Mart says the weakness, as always, is in the stars: "I do feel good about the economy, but I worry about the effect of higher oil prices," CEO Lee Scott told callers. "So I anticipate that we will face challenges as the year progresses."
Funny, I believe it costs the same amount to drive to a
that it does to drive to a Wal-Mart, but those other guys weren't moaning or pointing fingers at the pump.
Hmm, maybe that's why their stocks are going up and Wal-Mart's is going nowhere. There may be no justice in how Wal-Mart sees itself, but there's plenty of justice when it comes to how the stock market treats Wal-Mart's stock.
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