This morning, the retailer reported that sales at stores open at least one year are on track to rise 3% to 5% this month, possibly topping last October's 3.7% jump in same-store sales. Halloween product sales -- candy, costumes, lawn decorations, flashlights, batteries, talking pumpkins -- are "meeting expectations."
October is typically a strong month for fall apparel sales, too, and with Target
Wal-Mart should see nearly $260 billion in sales this year. As is typical in retail, margins are slim, and the company generated just $3.2 billion in 2002 free cash flow. That hasn't stopped Wal-Mart from being one of the market's best investments the last 20 years, reiterating a valuable lesson: The market loves growth even more than it loves high margins.
At $58, the $257 billion company trades at 28 times this year's earnings estimates and 25 times next year's.