Dow Movers: Cisco Energizes, Wal-Mart Is Downcast

Cisco Systems and Wal-Mart report quarterly results.

May 15, 2014 at 10:15AM

The S&P 500 and the narrower Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) were down 1.1% and 0.96%, respectively, at 10:15 a.m. EDT. Nevertheless, there is some positive news on the macro front: This morning's initial unemployment claims figure from the Labor Department for the week ended May 10 was the lowest in seven years, which suggests the job market continues to improve. Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, the lowest level since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

In company-specific news, Dow components and economic bellwethers Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) have reported quarterly results since yesterday's market close, but those results are not being received equally by investors.

Cisco Systems' previous two earnings reports provoked sell-offs in the networking specialist's stock. Yesterday afternoon's fiscal third quarter report is having the opposite effect, as the company's sanguine outlook is helping to reverse the negative sentiment that has weighed on shares. Cisco shares were up 7.1%. For my full take on the quarter, find out why I think Cisco remains a decent long-term bet (although it was a better bet at yesterday's prices than today's!).


Wal-Mart missed on both revenue and earnings per share for its fiscal first quarter ended April 30:


Actual/ Year-on-year growth (decline)

Consensus estimate


$114.2 billion


$116.3 billion





*Diluted EPS from continuing operations. Source: Wal-Mart Stores, Thomson FN

The company said severe weather was responsible for knocking $0.03 off its EPS, but, as the table shows, that isn't enough to explain the $0.05 miss with respect to analysts' consensus estimate. Net sales rose 0.8% year over year, or 2.1% if one excludes the impact of currency exchange rate fluctuations. There was no growth to be found in Wal-Mart's largest market: U.S. same-store sales fell 0.08% (up .12%, excluding the impact of weather).

These are disappointing numbers, particularly when one considers that Wal-Mart ought to have experienced a sales bump in the wake of the massive customer data breach at its largest U.S. competitor, Target (NYSE:TGT). (Conversely, Wal-Mart's results do not bode well for Target when it reports its quarterly results next Wednesday.)

The last quarter was the first full quarter for Wal-Mart's new CEO, C. Douglas McMillon (incidentally, Target replaced its CEO 10 days ago). It's a challenging time to step into the top role at the sprawling retailer, but that's why he presumably gets paid the big bucks. Investors will be looking for McMillon to reenergize and refocus the company, particularly in its domestic market. At a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 13.3, according to Morningstar, the shares look like an adequate value, but no more than that.

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Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. 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.

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