In a pair of moves that will further widen Wal-Mart's
First, the supermarket deal. Wal-Mart announced this morning that it would be buying a 33% stake from Dutch giant Ahold
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
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.