Dow Falls as Wal-Mart and Amazon Miss Expectations

The DJIA is down today as two of America's largest retailers miss expectations.

Jan 31, 2014 at 1:32PM

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.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 125 points, to 15,723, at 1:30 p.m. EST after two of the largest U.S. retailers missed earnings expectations. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was down nine points to 1,784.

Yesterday after the market close (NASDAQ:AMZN) reported quarterly earnings that missed analyst expectations; the stock is down nearly 10%. Amazon reported earnings per share of $0.51, above the $0.21 per share from a year ago but below analyst expectations of $0.74 per share. Revenue was up 20% to $25.59 billion, above last year's $21.27 billion but below analyst expectations of $26.5 billion. Amazon announced during the earnings conference call it is considering a $20-$40 hike to its Amazon Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping and video streaming. Amazon told analysts it expects earnings next quarter to range from a $200 million loss to a $200 million gain. Wall Street hates uncertainty and that's why we have the large sell-off today.

The other large retailer guiding lower today is Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which started the day down but is now up 0.2%. Wal-Mart had expected earnings per share in the just-ending fourth quarter between $1.60 and $1.70, but now expects earnings at $1.60 or possibly lower. The retailer said bad weather and cuts to the federal food stamps program hit its bottom line. The final quarterly report is due on Feb. 20.

What consumers and retailers are going through can be seen in today's economic releases.





Personal Income




Consumer Spending




Personal Consumption Expenditures Inflation




Core PCE Inflation




Americans' personal income was flat in December, below analyst expectations of 0.1% growth. Consumer spending grew 0.4% in December, which was better than analyst expectations of 0.2% growth but less than November's 0.6% growth. Analysts had expected that with the slowdown in income growth that consumer spending would not have grown as fast. The biggest drag to income growth was expected to be the hit to lower-income consumers due to the end of some food stamps programs and a loss of federal long term unemployment benefits.

The other metric investors should note is the personal consumption expenditures inflation numbers. Core PCE inflation is the Federal Reserve's favored measure of inflation and has been running below the Federal Open Market Committee's target of 2%.

Foolish takeaway
So what can an investor do in times like this? It's hard to stay sober while everyone around you is drunk on Fed-stimulus punch, telling you to join in on the fun. My advice: keep learning, focus on your goals, have an investing plan, stick to it, and ignore the crowds.

Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak. He has recently been helping out his sister with GLoBDD.The Motley Fool recommends The Motley Fool owns shares of Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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