NEW YORK (The Street) -- You lose if you do, you lose if you don't. That seems to be the case with any decision made by Wal-Mart (WMT) management, which will announce fiscal first-quarter 2016 earnings Tuesday before the opening bell.
The world's largest retailer is thinking beyond its big box, offering a new subscription shipping service due out later this summer. Code-named "Tahoe," Wal-Mart will provide unlimited shipping on about 1 million qualified products for $50 a year, or half of what Amazon (AMZN) charges for its Prime service. It's a gimmick, if you believe the critics, questioning whether this service will make a dent in Wal-Mart's revenue.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has also taken a public lashing for under-paying its workers. The company responded, raising its entry level wages to $9 an hour. Wal-Mart also promised to hike the rate up to -- at minimum -- $10 per hour by February 2016, committing to spend roughly $1 billion on salaries for 500,000 workers at its U.S. stores.
Now, the critics are worried about how much higher wages will hurt Wal-Mart's long-term earnings. The company can't catch break. This has kept Wal-Mart stock, which closed Friday at $79.24, under pressure. The shares are down about 7% year-to-date, lagging the broader averages and making it the fourth-worst performer among the Dow 30 stocks.
If you've bought and held WMT stock over the past year, you're up just 3%, against gains of 13% and 11% for the S&P 500 (SPX) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI), respectively. Take a look at the chart.