As my Foolish colleague Seth Jayson mentioned earlier today, it was irritating to watch the media hype surrounding Wal-Mart's
It just doesn't make sense. The company recently lowered its yearly earnings guidance. Now, two months later, it boosts its outlook for the third quarter, and Wall Street believes this has miraculously lessened concerns about the economy? Wal-Mart only improved its outlook because it was able to pass on additional inflationary food costs to its consumers. Now investors are just plain living in retail fantasyland.
And check out this quote regarding Wal-Mart, posted by Bob Pisani on CNBC's website: "They raised their guidance, reminding everyone that it is still the BOTTOM LINE, not the TOP LINE that truly matters."
OK, Bob, we know the bottom line counts. And sure, Wal-Mart is doing a nice job of managing its initial margins and expense leverage. But revenue is important, and seeing that the company's sales came from food and pharmacy -- not apparel or home goods -- offers no indication that our economy is doing just fine.
Aside from its impact on the rest of the market, Wal-Mart has been struggling to please its customers. Despite what Wall Street deems "impressive," these comps were nothing to boast about, and the company has more to blame than just the general economy. Consumers are flocking to stores like Costco
I have to hand it to Wal-Mart, though. Its measly rise in comps made quite a statement throughout the world of retail, and I'm betting that a lot of retailers -- particularly Gap