Stocks remained in rally mode last week, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 gaining more than 2%. Those moves put both indexes back near record highs, with the Dow up 3% for the year and the S&P higher by 11%.
Several retailing giants will announce operating results over the next few trading days, including Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), and BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE:BJ). Below, we'll take a look at the key trends that might send their stocks moving this week.
1. Walmart's customer traffic
Walmart announces its results on Tuesday, and investors are expecting big things from the world's top retailer. Sales jumped during the first half of 2020 as the pandemic lifted demand for staple products while pushing shoppers toward companies with robust multichannel selling platforms. Walmart took advantage of that approach in Q2, with comparable-store sales rising 9% in the U.S. market as e-commerce roughly doubled.
This week's report might show slower growth as COVID-19 disruptions settled down. But investors are hoping to see a better balance between customer traffic and average spending. Shopper volume dove 14% last quarter, after all, and should climb back toward positive territory over the next few quarters.
Meanwhile, Wall Street is curious about where Walmart's profitability might land during the holiday season ahead. If consumers continue tilting spending toward consumer discretionary purchases like home furnishings, then it could post a strong finish to a highly volatile fiscal year.
2. Home Depot's outlook
Investors are looking forward to Home Depot's Tuesday earnings report. The home-improvement retailer's stock has outperformed the market in 2020, despite a slump in GDP that would normally point to tough selling conditions.
Instead, the pandemic hasn't hurt the national housing market so far, while it has lifted demand for home-improvement supplies. Home Depot's domestic comparable sales grew a blistering 25% in its second fiscal quarter, compared to Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) 35% spike during the same period.
Lowe's will announce its results on Wednesday morning, so investors will soon have a clearer picture of the market-share dynamics in this industry. We'll also learn whether Lowe's is still closing the profitability gap and whether it is continuing to win customers in the key contractor niche.
The main focus will be on what Home Depot CEO Craig Menear and his team have to say about the health of the housing market as they look forward to the close of 2020 and a new, potentially challenging fiscal year ahead.
3. BJ's market share
BJ's Wholesale Club stock is outperforming the market and trouncing rival Costco so far this year. That rally will be put to the test on Thursday, when the retailer announces fiscal third-quarter results while updating investors on its growth outlook.
Pandemic-related changes to shopper behavior have transformed BJ's business in recent months. Consumers have aimed to reduce the volume of their shopping trips, while spending more on each trip. That trend helped push BJ's sales higher by 24% in the quarter that ended in early August. For context, Costco recently announced that sales rose more than 16% in the nine-week period that ended on Nov. 1.
While most of that increase in warehouse shopping demand may be temporary, investors are excited about other potentially enduring changes to BJ's business, including improving market share, profitability, and growth prospects. BJ's has also been able to direct some of its surging cash flow toward paying down debt, giving it more flexibility to compete. These wins should support some optimistic comments from CEO Lee Delaney on Thursday when BJ's details its expansion plans.