Retail Sector Shines, Highlighting a Fundamental Strength in the U.S. Economy

By Friday, May 18, 2012

corporate earningsIn a consumer-driven economy, what retailers say about their businesses is very important. For the most part, the retail sector has been saying that business conditions are getting better. A lot of retail stocks performed very well up until the recent stock market correction and valuations are reasonable. I’ve been writing about an underlying strength in the stock market and the U.S. economy and you can see it right now in the retail sector.

The strong first-quarter financial results of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT) beat consensus and the company expects strong profit growth in the current quarter. A lot of other brand-name companies in the retail sector reported very good numbers for the first quarter and many retail stocks are trading close to record highs on the stock market. Right now, with all the available news and lower oil prices, I’d say that second-quarter earnings season is shaping up to be surprisingly strong.

So, we have a stock market that’s in correction; however, economic news is showing mixed, but generally improving data. Lower oil prices stimulate consumers to spend and they lower the cost of doing business in the industrial sector. While speculators might bet that lower oil prices are a put option on the global economy, the spot price action directly affects the retail sector and that’s good for the economy.

As I keep saying, if we didn’t have the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, I believe the stock market would be a lot higher than it is currently. Corporate earnings growth may not be robust, but it isn’t flat either. The retail sector has been and should continue to be strong through to the end of this year. (See Wall Street Beats Main Street Again.) As well, a lot of industrial companies are expecting a solid bottom half to 2012. And the outlook for the consumer goods sector is also strong, with companies like Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE/CL) and Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE/KMB) trading at all-time record price highs on the stock market.

The structural problems in the U.S. economy and the eurozone are almost entirely related to sovereign debt. This is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed by policymakers. But consumers are doing their part and, as stock market investors, we can see this in the numbers. I fully expect the retail sector to keep outperforming over the coming quarters and the strength in this industry should trickle down to other sectors for a better-than-expected second-quarter earnings season. That’s my current view right now.


About the Author | Browse Mitchell Clark's Articles

Mitchell Clark is a senior editor at Lombardi Financial, specializing in large- and micro-cap stocks. He’s the editor of a variety of popular Lombardi Financial newsletters, including Micro-Cap Reporter, Income for Life, Biotech Breakthrough Stock Report, and 100% Letter. Mitchell has been with Lombardi Financial for 17 years. He won the Jack Madden Prize in economic history and is a long-time student of equity markets. Prior to joining Lombardi, Mitchell was a stockbroker for a large investment bank. In the... Read Full Bio »

Sep. 4, 2015
Trailing 12-month EPS for Dow Jones companies (Most Recent Quarter) $1014.15
Trailing 12-month Price/earnings multiple (Most Recent Quarter)

17.44

Dow Jones Industrial Average Dividend Yield 2.62%
10-year U.S. Treasury Yield 2.19%

Immediate term outlook:
The bear market rally in stocks that started in March 2009, extended because of unprecedented central bank money printing, is coming to an end. Gold bullion is up $1,000 an ounce since we first recommended it in 2002 and we are still bullish on the physical metal.

Short-to-medium term outlook:
World economies are entering their slowest growth period since 2009. The Chinese economy grew last year at its slowest pace in 24 years. Japan is in recession. The eurozone is in depression. With almost half the S&P 500 companies deriving revenue outside the U.S., slower world economic growth will negatively impact revenue and earnings growth of American companies. Domestically, America’s gross domestic product grew by only a meager 2.3% in the second quarter, which will negatively impact an already overpriced equity market.

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