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Nikkei Tanks; Retail Sales & Jobless Claims Released; WalMart’s Surprise Policy

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute
Nikkei Tanks; Retail Sales & Jobless Claims Released; WalMart’s Surprise Policy

Correction, crisis, or crash? The Nikkei tanked again today, officially entering a bear market. The Tokyo index tumbled another 6%. That puts its losses at nearly 22% since May 23rd, beyond the 20% that defines a bear environment.

Meanwhile, there's breaking news here at home. Both retail sales for May and the weekly jobless claims were released right as we started streaming live to you at 8:30. Retail sales were up .6% for the month, beating estimates which were for .5%. That's according to the Commerce Department. The Labor Department says there were 334,000 new weekly jobless claims. That also beat estimates which were for 350,000 new claims.

Sticking with the theme of jobs, Wal-Mart (WMT) has quietly put a new hiring policy in place. A Reuters investigation reveals the retail giant has shifted to hiring mostly temporary workers-- something it used to do only during the holiday season. A survey of 52 stores found WalMart hiring only temps at 27 stores. The chain was adding at least some full and part-time workers at 20-other stores, but five stores were not hiring at all. WalMart says the new policy is about getting its staffing levels right, not about saving money.


First up this morning is Safeway (SWY), which has been trading roughtly 30% higher. The supermarket chain announced after-hours yesterday that it's getting out of Canada. Competitor Sobeys is buying the stores for more than $5-billion. Safeway will use the cash to draw down its debt and buy back shares. Prior to the climb we're seeing now, Safeway stock is up 25% year-to-date.

Next we look at RBS (RBS) which is sharply lower on two different news items. First, sources say the company will shed 2,000 jobs in an effort to cut the size of its investment bank. That news comes on the heels of an announcement that CEO Stephen Hester will leave by year's end. The company board has ousted Hester saying it wants new leadership as it pushes toward privatization. RBS shares were down nearly 4% yesterday, and have moved another 3-percent lower in early trading today. But keep in mind the stock is up 43% over the past year.

Now there's clothing conglomerate PVH (PVH), which is up more than 8% after reporting its earnings. These numbers are not a mistake. Excluding items the company made $1.91 a share on $1.91-billion. That easily beat estimates of $1.35 a share. It's also a whopping gain from a year ago with revenue up 34%. So, why the jump? PVH completed its purchase of competitor Warnaco Group in February, giving it more control of the Calvin Klein brand. The deal also added brands like Speedo to the company's portfolio. Prior to this morning, PVH shares sat just about where they began 2013, down less than half a percent.

Finally, discount retailer Five Below (FIVE) is currently up 2.5% in early trading. The company posted quarterly results yesterday afternoon saying it earned 5-cents a share when estimates were for 4-cents. Revenues were also higher than expected. The chain says its sales during the quarter soared 30%. That's due in part to the opening of 14 new stores. The chain hopes to open 60 more stores in time for the winter holidays. Five Below went public back in July and is up 34% since then. It reached its all-time high back in March.