Here's Why Retail May Have a Big Year Ahead

On Tuesday, strong consumer spending during the fourth quarter, particularly the holidays, helped Walmart Inc to report better-than-expected earnings to end 2018. The news lifted the Direxion Daily Retail Bull 3X ETF (NYSEArca: RETL) 1.5 percent.

RETL seeks daily investment results equal to 300% of the daily performance of the S&P Retail Select Industry Index. The index is a modified equal-weighted index that is designed to measure performance of the stocks comprising the S&P Total Market Index that are classified in the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) retail sub-industry.

“To us, the consumer looks like they’re in pretty good shape,” CFO Brett Biggs said. “Gas prices are down. … We’re always monitoring the consumer and are ready to act if things change, but we feel our guidance is good for the next year and our business model works well in most environments.”

Walmart reported that sales at U.S. stores that were open at least a year went up 4.2 percent. Analysts were expecting a sales gain of 2.96 percent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Furthermore, adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.41 per share, besting expectations of $1.33 per share. The shift to online sales from brick-and-mortar stores was also apparent as online sales at Walmart grew 43 percent during the quarter, which was boosted by the expansion of its online grocery pickup and delivery services.