Is it a slow news day, or are the financial headlines this meaningless all the time? (Answer: yes, and yes.) Wal-Mart
Need I urge you to look a bit deeper than the headlines? Or dare I make the heretical suggestion that you ignore them altogether? (Feel free to ignore me, even. I swear I won't pout.)
Still here? On with the show.
What the world's biggest retailer said was that, so far, total comparable sales for June were "around" the low end of their forecasted 4% to 6% increase. There are some date shifts from the prior-year reporting period that move some July 4 revenues out of this year's period. The rest is unexplained, but in the end, company prognostications and a five-week snapshot like these often turn out to be pretty meaningless.
After all, two weeks ago, things looked just fine, and last month's numbers flouted management's earlier, dire predictions of consumer gas shocks. Furthermore, the way the firm has been knocking the cover off the ball lately -- to use the most summery metaphor I can find -- shareholders have little to fear. Sure, it would be nice to see sales predictions keep zooming upward, but even if they falter, the Bentonville bruisers have found ways to juice earnings anyway, such as bettering the firm's margins.
And with inflation remaining the media's economic fear o' the month, Wal-Mart, Target
In other news, after a protracted battle over fees, Wal-Mart announced that it would now resume the acceptance of customers' MasterCard debit cards. This is another move that will draw plenty of headlines, but probably means very little in terms of dollar signs. With the average American already packing a handful of credit cards, prospective Wal-Mart customers whose bank cards were shut out by the long-running flap will have long since found alternative ways to pay.
For more Fool retail coverage and investing tips:
- Take Bill Mann's advice and forget the numbers.
- Learn what to ignore on your way to becoming a lazy investor.
- What does summer have in store for discounters?