The Flight to Wal-Mart

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CHICAGO: In uncertain times, investors often resort to a "flight to quality." Consumers, apparently, flee to Wal-Mart. While the rest of the retail world braces for what may be a bleak Christmas season, the mammoth discount chain raked in $1.01 billion for the third quarter, beating Wall Street estimates and clearing the magic 10-figure mark for the second straight quarter.

"Wal-Mart is a juggernaut of a company in good times and bad," says Money writer Pablo Galarza. "But there's a bad vibe about the economy right now, and that's when these discount stores do the best." Galarza calls them "every day" companies -- whether Russia's defaulting or not, whether the Dow is up or down, "people still go to Wal-Mart." This year, though, they'll be going there for your Christmas present. Won't that be nice.