Retail sales totaled $710 million in the first two months of 2010, up slightly from a year ago, according to the Commerce Dept. Despite a stubborn unemployment rate, analysts at Standard & Poor's (MHP) Equity Research wrote on Mar. 15 that many retailers "may be poised for significant growth." Such companies as Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and Dollar General (DG) may have "benefitted from a change in consumer behavior brought on by the recession"—such as repairing cars instead of trading them in for new ones. Wall Street analysts upped earnings forecasts for more than 100 U.S. retail stocks in the past month, including J. Crew Group (JCG), according to Bloomberg data. For fund investors interested in retail, S&P recommends Fidelity Select Consumer Discretionary (FSCPX) and Rydex Retailing (RYRIX).
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