When it came to trading down, investors followed consumers in the first half of 2008. In a dismal six-month span that saw both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index decline at a double-digit pace, only a handful of food retailing stocks tracked by SN managed to eke out gains. At one end, low-price leader Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., led all gainers, reflecting both its positioning as a benefactor of a weak economy and strategic initiatives that analysts say are ...

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