In a pair of moves that will further widen Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) retail reach into the world's wallets, the discount giant acquired a minority stake in a Latin American grocer and signed a pact with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) to open tax-preparation centers inside some of its stores.

First, the supermarket deal. Wal-Mart announced this morning that it would be buying a 33% stake from Dutch giant Ahold (NYSE:AHO) in Central American Retail Holding Company, an operator of 363 grocery stores in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

It's a good move. Wal-Mart has the size and brawn to go it alone overseas. However, a move like this -- much like its team-up with Cifra to form Wal-Mart Mexico in 1991 -- allows the world's leading retailer to toil in new territories with the locals' blessing. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Wal-Mart isn't everywhere these days. The prolific discounter claims to own just 3% of the global retail market, and it wouldn't mind nibbling away at the other 97%.

Closer to home, Wal-Mart's deal with H&R Block allows the accounting experts to set up camp inside many of the retailer's cavernous superstores through the end of the 2007 tax filing season. This is a win for both companies. H&R Block has tried to diversify over the years, growing its financial advisor base and thriving in mortgage originations, but it's still a highly seasonal company that lives and dies by the April 15 filing deadline.

H&R Block dominates the tax-preparation market, with rival Jackson Hewitt (NYSE:JTX) a distant second. Obviously, the Wal-Mart outlets won't be attracting the high rollers who pay fat fees for their complicated returns. If they don't already have accountants, they've probably joined the masses in hooking up with tax-filing software. However, it will extend the brand even deeper into the mainstream and tap into a market that normally needs a little handholding during tax time. If the deal extends to Wal-Mart's warehouse clubs, the rewards may be even greater, given the popularity of Sam's Club with small business operators.

Wal-Mart wins here too, of course; H&R Block's services will give consumers one more reason to go to Wal-Mart.

These are interesting times for Wal-Mart. After years of being slammed like a piñata, the company has veered back into the media's good graces with its reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Yes, the company was faulted at first; it cleared out its vaults before the storm hit, yet left the gun racks stocked for the looters. However, it soon became a fast-moving source of staples and philanthropy, in many cases beating FEMA to the life-saving punch.

As the company heads south and starts attracting W-2s (insert your own joke about the certainty of death and taxes), Wal-Mart's image seems to be moving in a decidedly upward direction.

Let Wall Street wallop its stock price -- Wal-Mart's still a great company. For more great stocks unfairly beaten down by the market, sign up today for a free 30-day trial subscription to Philip Durell's Motley Fool Inside Value.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can squeeze a penny when he has to. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.