Time to Be Downbeat About Wal-Mart?

When I bought Wal-Mart (WMT) a bit more than a year ago, I wrote an article for Financial Times where I laid out my theses:

Wal-Mart currently appeals mostly to lower income demographics, and this is where things will change the most… Cleaner, better, more appropriately merchandised stores will attract new customers… encourage shoppers to… spend more… As initiatives take effect and the shopping experience improves, Wal-Mart will be taking market share from upper scale retailers…

I was wrong! Wal-Mart failed to improve its stores and merchandising to attract a more affluent shopper (the sub-par same store sales are a testament to that). Thus future fundamental return (earnings growth and dividends) will likely be in the high single digits, below original estimates, making the stock fairly valued (at best) at today’s valuation. My (accounting) loss on the purchase was miniscule – because I did not overpay for the stock; however, I experienced an opportunity cost loss as the market has appreciated since.