Wal-Mart Gets a Downgrade, Best Buy’s Solid Quarter, and 3 More Hot Stocks

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT): Wal-Mart shares are trading slightly down in the wake of a downgrade from Susquehanna to Neutral from Positive, as the firm sees consumer spending remaining challenged. It also believes that moderate food inflation will cut into the retailer’s margins, as the company is more heavily weighted toward selling food.

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Best Buy Co. (NYSE:BBY): Best Buy shares are up nearly 10 percent after the company beat estimates with earnings per share of 32 cents beating by 20 cents and revenue of $9.30 billion beating by $0.17 billion. Strong performance from online sales helped the company make up for a deficit in comparable store sales as costs and the impact of a new pricing strategy were also better than anticipated.

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Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD): Home Depot shares are trading around flat despite a beat for earnings earnings per share of $1.24 beating by 3 cents and revenue of $22.52 billion beating by $0.78 billion. Comparable store sales swelled 10.7 percent during the quarter thanks to strong store traffic, beating projections of 7-8 percent. The housing recovery fueled large gains, though the company has become more efficient as well.

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Royal Bank of Scotland Group (NYSE:RBS): Investment vehicle W&G Investments has put in a 1.5 billion pound ($2.35 billion) offer to acquire 316 bank branches RBS is selling as part of the conditions of its 2008 bailout. The bid falls just shy of the 1.55 billion pound valuation RBS estimated. The bank has received two additional offers and is still considering an initial public offering for the assets; it’s expected to make its decision by September.

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BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP): BHP’s full-year profit before special items fell at $11.8 billion versus the $17.2 billion last year and the consensus of $12.7 billion. Revenue came in at $65.97 billion, under last year’s $72.23 billion; net profit dropped 30 percent to $10.9 billion, hurt by exceptional items of $922 million, combined with a temporarily increased tax rate, while emerging economies experienced lower-than-expected growth in the second half.

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