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Whether you were up before the sun or didn't venture out of your home, if you own shares of a retailer, today was an important day. Black Friday, the busiest day of the year for retail shopping, is nearly over now, and even though the markets were open for only half a day of trading, there was some big news out of the retail industry this morning.
But before we get to what happened, let's look at how the major indexes fared today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended the half-day session down 10 points or 0.07%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.08%, but the Nasdaq managed to move higher by 0.37%.
Now, let's see which retailers made waves today.
What would Black Friday be without a little drama from the world's biggest retailer? Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) ended the day up just 0.1% today despite a statement this morning in which the company called this another record-breaking Black Friday -- but didn't really specify what was record-breaking about it. The report did say the company saw 22 million customers last year and had more this year, recording more than 10 million transactions from 6 p.m. (when most locations opened) to 10 p.m. on Thursday.
But while the company was upbeat about the performance, some of the more than 1,500 planned Wal-Mart protests today led to arrests at a few locations. Demonstrators are calling for higher wages at the largest private employer, as they say the pay isn't enough to live on. Looking for an across-the-board pay increase to a minimum of $12.50 an hour would allow workers to support themselves and their families, protestors said. Wal-Mart officials responded to today with an additional press release saying the average full-time employee makes $12.81 an hour and that the company is proud of its wages and benefits, which it says include affordable health care, 401(k) access, educational benefits, and performance based bonuses.
Two other retailers making the news today because of their share-price moves were Radio Shack (OTC:RSHCQ), which fell 2.02%, and Zale (UNKNOWN:ZLC.DL), which increased by 5.21%. There was no major news for either company today, but there have been some recent events. On Wendesday, Radio Shack released its list of what it thinks will be the top six tech trends expected to dominate this holiday shopping season. Tablets and smartphones were on the list, but Radio Shack also made a case for DIY tech gifts and remote-control toys. DIY tech gadgets, like parts or hobby kits? That sounds like a company struggling to come up with something to boast about. Radio Shack surely knows it can't compete with other retailers, such as Wal-Mart or Best Buy, on price for large flat-screen TVs or other hot tech gadgets. And the only popular remote controls this season are likely to be the ones you need to play on the new Xbox One or PlayStation. I haven't seen a lot of analysts calling for a big push in the sales of remote-control planes or robots.
As for Zale, it could be moving in tandem with jewlery titan Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), which made a splash eariler in the week after reporting third-qaurter sales. The problem is that Tiffany got a sales boost from its exposure to Asia, while Zale is completely based in the U.S. and Canada. After today's move higher, Zale trades at 62 times past earnings and 19 times future expected results. That's a large spread, and if the company can't live up to expectations, investors buying in today or in the near future could really get hurt.