There has been a blitz of news hitting shares of Inside Value selection Wal-Mart
That bad news is that Wal-Mart has reported a sales decline of 0.1% for the month of November. The 0.1% decline matches the company's updated flat guidance for November, but we won't know which part or parts of the business were weakest until Thursday, when the company reports the full details of its results. Those details will provide an idea as to whether it was Target
The same-store sales performance is disappointing, but I'd argue that even a few months of disappointing comps are not the end of the world for a Wal-Mart investment thesis. On the bright side, the company continues to improve its online sales and traffic numbers. Unique visitor results from Neilsen/Netarings show that Wal-Mart placed a solid third online in unique visits behind traditional online powerhouses eBay
Today, Wal-Mart also announced that it has brought its $4 generic drug program to the remaining 11 states where it did not provide coverage. It's too early to tell if this program is having the desired effect of not only providing an affordable alternative for generic prescription drugs, but also boosting traffic and, in turn, sales. We should get a clearer picture over the next few months, but now that the program is national, Wal-Mart can put some additional effort behind marketing the program toward shoppers it will benefit most.
The final news item today concerning Wal-Mart is its tie-up with the Indian company Bharti for a retailing joint venture in India. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Wal-Mart was able to nudge British retail behemoth Tesco (OTC: TSCDY) out of the picture and ink the deal. India is obviously a large market with a ton of potential, but time will tell how well the company is able to fare there -- though I will admit I'm slightly optimistic that this is a joint venture with a local partner.
Wal-Mart's performance continues to be mediocre at best, but it also continues to have a very strong business with a dominant position. It's also a business that is priced for things to go wrong. Historically speaking, the time to buy strong businesses is when they stumble a bit and are priced for their woes to continue. Wal-Mart at around $45 a share looks like just such an opportunity to me.
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