Black Friday: Amazon.com, Inc. vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) have been headed in opposite directions, as consumer habits continue to shift

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:50 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

According to initial reports, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales have been generally strong -- though shoppers are more and more choosing e-tail options over brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, shoppers spent $1.1 billion online last night, per Adobe Digital Index, marking a 22% year-over-year increase. Here's a quick roundup of the deals being offered by two of the biggest names on the block: Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT).

If you're looking for tech gadgets, Amazon.com has the Kindle Paperwhite selling for just $100, Echo wireless speakers for $149, and Fire tablets for $35. Discounts are also abundant on smartphones, flash memory sticks, and computer equipment -- not to mention an insane deal on cloud storage.

Of course, the buzz hasn't had much impact on the charts today, as AMZN is sitting on a slim 0.2% lead at $676.44. Longer term, though, the shares have been picking up momentum, rallying 118% in 2015 and touching a record high of $682.77 as recently as this past Monday.

Amid this brilliant technical performance, Amazon.com, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMZN) bullish bandwagon has gotten crowded. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has amassed a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 1.28 -- higher than 72% of all other readings from the past year. What's more, 23 of 28 analysts rate AMZN a "buy" or better, with not a single "sell" recommendation to be found.

Meanwhile, things are getting a bit crazy for WMT, with reports of brawls in Kentucky and a riot at the retailer's El Paso location. There's plenty worth fighting over, too, including $8 video games, a 40% sale on the Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) Flex, and deep deep discounts on TVs, which went on sale in stores last night

However, WMT has barely budged on the charts, off 0.4% at $60. This is more of the same for a stock that's given up 30% of its value on a year-to-date basis, and is struggling to overcome resistance at its descending 10-week moving average.

As such, Wall Street's collective sentiment tilts in a skeptical-to-bearish direction. For one, 16 of 19 analysts rate Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. a "hold." For another, the equity's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 0.48 outranks 71% of comparable readings from the past year, suggesting option buyers have picked up puts over calls at a faster-than-usual clip in recent weeks.

Taking a step back, the retail sector has generally been weak this year, and earnings season hasn't helped. Of the 78 names we follow, just 32% are trading above their 80-day moving average, with a typical loss of 7.7% in 2015. Not surprisingly, short sellers have taken a keen interest in this space. The typical retail stock has seen a 17.2% increase in short interest year-over-year, with 14.3% of its float dedicated to short interest.

And while Black Friday isn't all that important to the broader market, it's crucial to retail traders looking for more robust returns on their investments. Then again, if things fail to pan out as they'd like, they can always blame the weather.

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