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Following a number of terrible quarterly results by retailers, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) may finally break its six-day losing streak. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT the index is up by 59 points, or 0.4% while the S&P 500 is up 0.71% and the Nasdaq has risen 0.87%.
The big losers
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) is down 11.8% today after the company reported disappointing earnings after yesterday's closing bell. Not only did HP report weaker-than-expected results for the quarter, but CEO Meg Whitman told investors that the company would not see revenue growth in 2014. That comment, and the fact that nearly every unit of HP's business is performing poorly, has investors selling the stock off today. Just a few days ago, HP was up more than 90% for 2013. That gain has since been reduced to 55%. Investors should be cautious if they're thinking about buying this company as it gets cheaper.
Retailers Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF ) and Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD ) are also having bad days: Shares of Abercrombie are down a crushing 18%, and Sears has lost 8.3%, after each company reported earnings this morning.
Abercrombie missed on both the top and bottom lines, which many blame on an inability to keep up with the changing tastes of young shoppers. The company had to deeply discount merchandise during the quarter, and it generated about half the profit it had forecast. Retailers that focus on a younger generation always need to stay on top of the latest trends, and one misstep can lead a company into big trouble, like we're seeing today.
Due to weak sales, deep discounts, and a lower number of stores, Sears posted a widening second-quarter loss. For the quarter the company lost $1.83 per share, compared with a loss of $1.25 per share last year, as revenue declined 6% from $9.47 billion to $8.87 billion. Things just keep getting worse and worse for Sears, and I have a hard time finding anything good about the company. Even as some value investors say there is money to be made from the property the company owns, I would argue that there's more money to be made by owning a better company with less risk involved.
The retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only th most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the "3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail" in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.