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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 06-01-2012 06:00 AM

Better Days?

Data and results this week helped us size up our hopes for better days ahead in the EU, consumer spending, the housing market, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five.

Data and results this week helped us size up our hopes for better days ahead. So, what moved up and down the hope index?

Joining me with the details is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're very welcome Jason.

Stipp: So what do we have for The Friday Five this week.

Glaser: We are going to talk about Research in Motion, same-store sales, Spanish banks, rates, and finally the housing market.

Stipp: If anyone has been looking for better days ahead for quite a long time, it's Research in Motion. They've really been struggling in the very competitive handset mobile market. What's the story after their results [preview] this week?

Glaser: They keep scrolling through their menus trying to find an app that's going help them turn that company around. They just haven't been able to find it yet.

We heard this week from the relatively new CEO of Research in Motion that first-quarter results are going to be much worse than expected. They are going to have an operating loss, the sales of their existing handsets just aren't doing very well, and we are still waiting anxiously for those next-generation Blackberries to hit the market and to really try to re-excite people about the possibility of getting a new Blackberry.

I think at this point, it's going to be extremely hard for them to get people back on the platform. In many ways, their brand image is very tarnished. It's been so long since they put out a product that people are really excited about and that's really built the kind of buzz that the iPhone, or that Android devices, or even some of the new Window phone devices have really been building.

Now, they also said that they are going to be exploring some strategic initiatives with J.P. Morgan and with RBC, and I think that some of those initiatives could be more interesting for the company.

There is a lot of value there. Certainly, owning that corporate e-mail security space could be potentially very lucrative for them if they bring that app to other platforms, potentially, and become more of a services company; there still could be a future for Research in Motion, even if it's not as a handset maker.

The stock is down over 75% over the last 12 months. It's really struggling. I think it's going to continue to struggle, but hopefully, those strategic alternatives will work out to something where they really can get to those better days

Stipp: We also got May same-store sales this week, and they looked pretty good. Are their better days ahead for the consumer, despite all the uncertainty that we're seeing in the headlines?

Glaser: May did look good. April was a little bit concerning--certainly, the numbers did not come in near where analysts had been expecting. May looks a little bit better.

And certainly, you don't want to read too much into one month missing [expectations] or one month doing better. When holidays fall, general seasonality, weather, other factors are going to impact the numbers [month to month]. But I think [May data] certainly does show that the consumer has not fallen off the cliff.

A lot of those major mass-market retailers out there--like Macy's and Target--are doing well. They are really growing sales at above inflation rates... Target said that they are seeing the average ticket size continue to increase--that people, when they do go shopping, are willing to load up on a few more discretionary items in the cart that maybe they weren't just a few months ago.

I think that's a good sign for the consumer. I know we've said this before, and we're probably going to say it a million times more, the consumer really drives the recovery. Consumer spending is just incredibly important. And I think we saw signs at least in this data that the consumer truly is holding up.

Stipp: So, the headlines out of Europe had been about Greece. We got our fill of Greece headlines for a while. And now increasingly they're about Spain and some of the issues that Spain is having with their banks.

If we can control the pain to just Greece and maybe also Spain as well, will there be better days for the EU ahead?

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