The market is so negative about the performance and the outlook for the retail industry that just producing a fall in profit that is in line with guidance can push the share price up.
This outcome is just what electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi did today. Investors were expecting the worst and a vanilla-flavoured 5 per cent fall in earnings was a welcome relief.
Having said that, one of the primary reasons the shares shot up about 5 per cent was because the stock had been "short sold" by punters, and they needed to weigh back into the stock to cover their positions.
Right now, JB Hi-Fi is one of the best performers amid a bunch of series underperformers in the discretionary retail industry.
It has one big point of differentiation - its sales are improving on an overall basis, although comparable store sales (or like for like) were down slightly.
The company retains its strategy to open new sites but it has also received a kicker from competitors pulling up stumps and leaving the market, most notably WOW Sight & Sound.
The government stimulus payments for education and the carbon tax probably did a bit to help JB Hi-Fi along too.
JB Hi-Fi has also been pretty successful at taking market share away from others including Harvey Norman and Dick Smith.
It is getting some traction in the online market but its bricks and mortar model also has advantages over others. The company runs a particularly low-cost operation with higher sales per square foot than others in the market and gets the productivity benefits on the back of this outcome.
Sadly, the relative success in particularly the second half of the 2012 financial year probably cannot be extrapolated to a general improvement in the retailing industry.
The retailer experienced some big price deflation across a number of its categories including LCD flat screen televisions.
Given the continued store openings and the success in taking market share, JB Hi-Fi boss, Terry Smart, was confident enough to forecast an improvement in sales of 4.9 per cent for 2013 but a 1.4 per cent fall in comparable stores.
He based this sales guidance on the experience for July so how reliable or accurate that will be for the remaining 11 months of the business year must be questionable.
But Smart was not prepared to predict what kind of profit JB Hi-Fi could ring up this year. Admittedly making such a forecast would be a tough call in this retail environment.