Walmart Set to Surge Past Amazon

Shoppers at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston in March.


Photo:

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Walmart
Inc.


WMT 4.53%

shares advanced 4.6% around midday Thursday, continuing a winning streak this year that has lifted it about 19% and put it neck-in-neck with shares of a highflying tech favorite:

Amazon.com
Inc.


AMZN 0.79%

The company said Thursday that sales rose in the second quarter and it even raised its profit forecasts for the year, making it one of the S&P 500’s top gainers.

Walmart is now on track to narrowly surpass Amazon’s advance this year. This is notable to some because Amazon is a favorite for investors seeking fast-growing companies. The e-commerce giant’s gains have even helped propel major U.S. stock indexes higher this year. Amazon stock is up 18.4% this year as of early Thursday.

This “would have been surprising to anybody two-and-a-half years ago,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Walmart’s jump also highlights the varying fates of many retailers in the U.S. This was on display this morning after strong retail-sales data. Though American shoppers are providing a boost to the U.S. economy, their spending isn’t lifting shares of many retailers. Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online climbed 0.7% in July from a month earlier, above what economists’ expected.

“We’ve seen the divergence all year long” among retailers, said

Ilya Feygin,

a managing director at WallachBeth Capital. He said that retailers that have been able to adapt to changing tastes among consumers have done well, while others have fared poorly.

For example, shares of

Ralph Lauren
Corp.

fell 3.4% in trading Thursday, while

Tiffany

& Co. fell about 1.8%. The retailers’ losses are even more striking because major U.S. stock indexes bounced higher Thursday after steep declines Wednesday.

Other retailers like

Nordstrom
Inc.,

Gap
Inc.

and

Foot Locker
Inc.

 are scheduled to report earnings next week, and winners and losers among retail heavyweights will likely become clearer.

Write to Gunjan Banerji at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com

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