Will Wal-Mart’s Earnings Miss Big Time Next Month?

Shares of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) have climbed 15 percent so far this year through Wednesdays close, a gain slightly greater than the 8.8 percent etched out by the Standard & Poors 500 Index in the same period. Yet, since the beginning of February, there has been a feeling of impending doom surrounding the company and its stock. That was when an email indicating the company was facing deteriorating sales was leaked to Bloomberg. In the intervening months, the commotion that initially surrounded the email has died down slightly, as no major problems have surfaced. But another indication that operations might not be moving smoothly appeared Thursday.

Analysts at Detwiler Fenton Group said in a research note seen by the publication that they have seen signs of slumping sales of perishable goods at Wal-Marts stores, suggesting that the retailers grocery business may be struggling. The firm also noted that Wal-Mart may have stocked too much outerwear.

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Following the firms assessment, shares of the retailer fell the most in two months, dropping as much as 2.4 percent in Thursday morning trading. The companys last significant intra-day decline came on February 15, the day when the emails were leaked. Also in February, the retailer gave a forecast for the current quarter that sparked concerns as it fell below analysts estimates. Wal-Mart said that the end of the payroll tax holiday, which returned the tax that funds Social Security back to 6.2 percent in January from a rate of 4.2 percent, and delayed refunds would curtail spending by its lower-income customers…

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