It was a noble fight, but it's time for another Wal-Mart
The failure to make it work after nine years in Germany does not mean that Wal-Mart's fundamentals are crumbling. The company continues to grow elsewhere and remains an attractively priced Inside Value newsletter service recommendation. The move simply reminds us of the cultural and competitive challenges that get in the way of dreams of American global domination.
Far too often, we Americans overlook those global challenges. Whether it's nationalistic hubris or the flawed notion that if something works stateside it has to work everywhere else, investors often get burned in thinking that a successful domestic company can clone itself overseas. It's never that easy. Companies like Gap
This is a lesson that works in both offline and online realms. If Japan seems simple enough to crack, just ask eBay
Wal-Mart's exit is important because the model seemed bulletproof. Working on lean margins and making it up in turnover, the company's technological efficiencies make the world's leading retailer tough to beat in delivering rock-bottom prices. Saving money doesn't need a translator.
Unfortunately for Wal-Mart, pricing isn't everything. Cultural differences remain, and people around the world have a knack for rallying around the familiar and homegrown.
Philip Durell has singled out Wal-Mart and Gap for his Inside Value newsletter. eBay and Gap have been recommended to Stock Advisor readers. Take the newsletter that best fits your investing style for a 30-day free spin.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has probably spent more at Wal-Mart's online store than at its offline empire in recent years. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.