Disney and Wal-Mart Shine As Consumer Income and Spending Strengthen

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Again the major U.S. indexes rallied today, after more positive economic data was released before the markets opened this morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) managed to gain 73 points, or 0.45%, and hit a new all-time intraday high, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq increased by 0.53% and 1.08%, respectively.

These gains were fueled by consumer-focused data that indicated a 0.5% increase in consumer spending in November compared with October, and a report that consumer income rose by 0.2% over the same comparable periods. And since 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer-driven, even the smallest increases can really make a big deal.

This data certainly helped boost the Dow's more consumer-facing stocks, such as Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , but they also got a hand from some other catalysts today.

Disney announced that it had cut its CEO's pay in 2013 and named Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and CEO of the mobile payment company Square, to its board of directors. Shareholders will have to approve Dorsey at the company's March 18 annual meeting, but investors should see this as very good news. The addition of a young entrepreneur to the company's board who also has wonderful connections and insight to what's going on around the world should help steer Disney down the right path moving forward.

The pay cut was another big win for investors, as the company reported that the reduction was due to Chief Executive Bob Iger's inability to outperform his targeted goals in 2013. When a company does well but misses the lofty expectations it has set for itself, it's nice to see that it doesn't just pay out all its executive bonuses anyway.

As for Wal-Mart, the company probably got a boost today at the expense of Target (NYSE: TGT  ) , whose credit card scandal only seems to be getting worse with each passing day. Today we found out that not only have a number of class action lawsuits been brought against the retailer, but the Department of Justice is now also looking into the matter. This comes after the U.S. Secret Service opened an investigation last week into the hack in which criminals stole about 40 million customers' credit card information between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. It's unknown whether the DOJ and Secret Service are both looking for the criminals or whether Target handled the situation appropriately itself. Not everyone thinks Target has done so, and that's why analysts and other market participants think Wal-Mart will benefit greatly from this problem.

For now, investors should sit tight on both stocks, or even add shares of Target if you believe in the company's long-term picture, as these sorts of incidents don't usually last very long.  

More Foolish insight
To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report: "The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail." In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.

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Related Tickers

8/30/2016 2:49 PM
^DJI $18425.12 Down -77.87 -0.42%
DIS $94.92 Up +0.05 +0.05%
Walt Disney CAPS Rating: *****
TGT $70.16 Down -0.89 -1.25%
Target CAPS Rating: ***
WMT $71.27 Down -0.13 -0.18%
Wal-Mart Stores CAPS Rating: ***