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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon.com, Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy, Target and Apple

  The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon.com, Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy,
                               Target and Apple

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Nov. 29, 2012

CHICAGO, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Zacks.com announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN),
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY), Target
Corporation (NYSE:TGT) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

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from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5513

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Holiday Season Lifts Consumer Index

While the economy is still struggling to fully recover, Thanksgiving, Black
Friday and Cyber Monday came as a relief for the retailers this holiday
season. The holiday weekend sales have helped consumer confidence strongly
improve. Amid the economic gloom, it seems that consumers had saved enough
bucks to grab the best deals available now.

A recent report by Conference Board data suggested that Consumer Confidence
Index rose to 73.7 in November from a revised 73.1 in October, and attained
the highest level since February 2008, when the index touched 76.4. This
prompts a sense of optimism about steady increase in consumer spending going
forward; barring the impending "fiscal cliff" making its way in. The impact of
fiscal cliff or $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will take its
effect from the beginning of 2013 if not resolved by Congress.

According to National Retail Federation (NRF), the survey performed by
BIGinsight revealed that as many as 247 million bargain hunters visited stores
and browsed the Internet over the past weekend compared with 226 million in
the prior year. The average spending per customer rose to $423.6 over the
weekend, up 6.3% from $398.6 in the prior-year comparable period. Average
online spending increased 14.5% to $172.4 from $150.5 in the corresponding
period last year.

The data compiled by NRF also suggested that sales on the Thanksgiving weekend
surged 12.8% to $59.1 billion from $52.4 billion in the year-ago period.
Notably, sales did rise, but the rate of growth decelerated from 16.4% growth
rate achieved in the prior-year period.

This doesn't mean retailers haven't done their homework. Instead, they have
now gained enough experience to make the best amid lingering gloomy economic
conditions. Early-hours store openings, huge discounts, promotional activities
and free shipping on online purchases were enough to lure customers on Black
Friday, which turned out to be a bonanza for both brick-and-mortar as well as
e-commerce retailers.

As suggested by comScore, Black Friday witnessed online retail spending of
$1.04 billion that increased 26% from $816 million in 2011, whereas
Thanksgiving Day saw a 32% jump in online spending to $633 million. Amazon.com
Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) recorded highest online traffic as per comScore on Black
Friday and was followed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Best Buy Co. Inc.
(NYSE:BBY), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL).

However, retail sales on Black Friday, which kicks off the holiday sales,
edged down 1.8% to $11.2 billion, while foot traffic climbed 3.5%, according
to the data released by ShopperTrak. Analysts believe that Thanksgiving Day
attracted some sales from Black Friday due to the early offerings of best
deals.

It seems that the holiday season is shaping up well, lifting consumer's
confidence, benefiting retailers and giving some momentum to derailed economy.
Sensing the pulse, we could see more competitive pricing and launch of new
products to attract shoppers in the holiday season.

We believe that retail companies will be actively making efforts to win the
hearts of bargain hunters. Interestingly, it definitely remains a wait-and-see
story as to which retailers emerge successful in wooing maximum consumers in
this distressed economy.

Happy Shopping…..

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