By Jessica Shambora
December 5, 2008

“If you get too caught up in that good life, it’s probably time to move on, simply because you lose touch with what your mind is supposed to be concentrating on: serving the customer.”

–Sam Walton, the late founder of Wal-Mart

. Today the company that Sam built–the world’s largest corporation–announced that November sales were up 3.4%, beating Wall Street’s and its own expectations. Management attributed the strong performance to aggressive holiday discounts, the decline in gas prices (which drove traffic to its stores), and the trend of high-end consumers trading down for value. Walton’s philosophy fits today: Even consumers who might “get caught up in that good life” in more normal economic times are now shopping for bargains. Wal-Mart’s stock climbed to $55 on the news and is up 13.7% this year–the best-performing Dow 30 stock.

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