Shares of retailers and other consumer companies rose as analysts said the sector fared better than expected in the key holiday-shopping period. One brokerage said a strong fourth-quarter performance for retail shares does not change the fact that the industry is struggling, setting the stage for bruising market-share battles. "With a combination of cleaner inventory and constructive holiday headlines taking off some of the retail apocalypse chill, [retail stocks] enjoyed a healthy December," said analysts at brokerage Nomura Securities. "Although retail showed the risks of prematurely writing its eulogy, by definition, 'structural' challenges don't fade over three months and although the rally may have legs and tax savings should provide meaningful lifts, retail has bifurcated into share donors, takers and those trying to keep out of the fight." Shares of diet purveyor Weight Watchers rallied after hip hop star DJ Khaled became the brand's "social-media ambassador," adding his endorsement to that of Oprah Winfrey, and saying he lost 20 pounds on the program.
-Rob Curran, [email protected]