Market Insider

Wal-Mart Boosts Stocks With Earnings Surprise


Stocks are squarely in positive ground this morning helped by a surprise comment from Wal-Mart that its earnings will be better than expected this quarter. Chain stores report monthly sales today and expectations have been low. Macy's for instance is down 2.7%, Limited was down 4%, Chico's is down 8.3% and Nordstrom cut its third quarter forecast. Saks was up 7.7%.

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Wal-Mart goes against the theme of gloom that's been coming out of corporate America this week and it shows that there will be some winners as investors pick among the quarter's numbers. Some of those winners will get a bounce from the weak dollar. We see that inPepsi's earnings today. The company reported net climbed 17% to $1.74 billion, helped by a big jump in foreign sales.

Wal-Mart's monthly sales were flat as expected, showing that it's getting its house (or store) in order by managing costs and inventory. Wal-Mart says its overall apparel and home sales remain soft and that warm weather and tighter consumer spending impacted its seasonal items.

Same store sales were up 0.8% for September, minus fuel sales. With fuel, Wal-Mart sales were up 6.4%, the beneficiary of high gasoline prices. Wal-Mart now sees earnings for the quarter at $0.66-$0.69 per share vs. the $0.63 estimated.

Politics Today
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo speaks to President Bush today. Bush will also be meeting before that with his economic team. CNBC political reporter John Harwood speaks to presidential hopeful Democrat Hilary Clinton D-N.Y.

Sporting a "Hilary" button on his lapel, President Bill Clinton was in New York last night at a book party for former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. I asked him if he would be worried about the weak dollar if he were president now. He said he would though for now its helping the trade deficit and U.S. companies. "At this level, it's alright, but if it keeps falling it could become precarious," he said.

European stock markets are all higher after Asian stocks closed with gains. The U.S. dollar is weaker today and oil is higher.

Bummed CEOs
CNBC's Erin Burnett reports today from the Business Council's meeting in Williamsburg, Va. On "Squawk Box," Burnett reported that there's a new pessimism among chief executives.

"The attitude among CEOs is more pessimistic. There's a marked shift in the pessimistic direction overall. 44% of CEOs in this latest survey say the conditions in their own industries have worsened in the past six months," Burnett said. That's double the number six months ago. Thirty-nine percent said the conditions are about the same. The CEOs were most concerned about turmoil in the credit market, then consumer spending.

Perhaps those gloomy CEOs were worried about their earnings. Thomson Financials compilation of forecasts for the S&P 500 shows zero growth for the third quarter and that number is expected to turn negative when the firm crunches numbers later today.

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