In what surely must be a delight to our Inside Value team, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) last week touched a new 52-week high when it reached $55.33 a share. The stock closed on Friday at $54.80 a share.

What caused the spike? Whereas fellow retailers J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) and Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD) both copped to lower sales, Wal-Mart on Thursday bumped its first-quarter guidance from $0.70 to $0.74 a share to between $0.74 and $0.76.

That's a huge deal. Not only did the Bentonville Behemoth upgrade its own estimates, but more importantly, the new range also blew past the Street's consensus of $0.72 a share.

Though some predicted that Wal-Mart would be the worst stock for 2008, the company seems to be showing strength, even in the weakening economy. Initiatives such as co-branding health clinics and stripping down its apparel lines, coupled with its endeavor to be more environmentally friendly, have fellow Fool Alyce Lomax thinking the company is back in its element

Low everyday price, still big value
Did our 95,000-strong community at Motley Fool CAPS see this coming? Some, yes:

Metric

Wal-Mart

CAPS stars (5 max)

***

Total ratings

3,625

Bullish ratings

2,992

Percent Bulls

82.5%

Bearish ratings

633

Percent Bears

17.4%

Bullish pitches

553

Bearish pitches

132

Note: Data current as of April 10, 2008.

So did Foolish colleague Tim Otte, who praised Wal-Mart's valuation versus Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Walgreen (NYSE: WAG), Costco (Nasdaq: COST), and of course, Target (NYSE: TGT) in a commentary posted earlier this week. (Mind if I borrow your crystal ball, sir?)

But, again, Tim is hardly alone. Fools in the CAPS community who offered the thumbs-up a year ago in April 2007 have earned more than 20 points for picking Wal-Mart to outperform the market. Investor 74Aggie pointed out how "everyone has to go here." Ben1127, equally blunt, said that Wal-Mart is "still 800 LB gorilla in retailing with worldwide exposure."

Well done, Fools.

Go shopping for related Foolishness:

Best Buy, Limited Brands, and Wal-Mart are Inside Value picks. Best Buy and Costco are Stock Advisor selections. Limited Brands is also an Income Investor recommendation. Get free, unfettered access to these market-beating services' stock research and recommendations with a 30-day trial subscription.

Fool.com and Rule Breakers contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. See Tim's portfolio, and read his latest blog commentary. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.