The two earnings days seem immediately dichotomous, with one missing and leaping forward while the other beat and fell fast.
They key differences between a near 7% drop for Dollar General on Tuesday despite strong earnings, and Dollar Tree becoming the market's biggest gainer on its Nov. 29 earnings day despite a weak release, were the expectations and the management commentary.
Dollar General has been a high flyer all year heading into its earnings, posting an over 20% gain for the year ahead of the release. Meanwhile, Dollar Tree had fallen by the same measure.
Thus, the expectations for Dollar Tree were much easier to beat, with even the miss being mitigated by the market's low bar for the earnings.
This was particularly true for the company's laggard Family Dollar acquisition that has failed to justify its $9 billion price tag to this point amid consistently declining same store sales despite the parent company's 43rd consecutive quarter of growth.
All it took was talk of renovations to Family Dollar stores in a press release that could drive future growth at the recently acquired franchise for sentiment to shift and help the stock pop in the fashion it did.
Meanwhile, Dollar General's bar was set high already amid its 2018 surge and continued positive numbers despite a turbulent fourth quarter for the market.
As such, a lowered guidance amid transportation costs and potential tariff impacts was felt by investors much more, especially given a market that was turned over by President Trump's tariff talk pump and dump of sorts.
The expectations for Five Below are somewhat murkier, given the company's strong 2018 that has totaled an almost 60% gain for investors, but a quarter to date loss of nearly 20%.
Overall, while the laggard quarter may provide some mitigation to losses as it has reined in the company's previously bloated price to earnings ratio there remains a high expectation for the company that has beat consensus estimates for the past seven quarters.
In the current market, any disappointment from such a consistent performer is only amplified.
Management Marks Stock Movement
That said, management commentary has proven a powerful tool in the current market environment, especially for discounters who have their margins put under the microscope quarter after quarter.
Evidence was apparent enough in Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin's interview with Jim Cramer on Mad Money after his earnings release, in which he echoed the tariff mitigation the company is capable of.
"The tariff is a real issue for every retailer," he explained, "But we can make selection on products, where we do buy it from, and where we make it."
Philbin made clear that his company would be able to retain its thin margins despite any adverse impact given their positioning for the worst-case scenario 25% addition in January.
By contrast, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos was not able to assuage analyst anxiety despite his own company's relatively low exposure to China in its supply chain.
"Depending on the scope of future rate increase or expansion of products subject to tariffs, it could have a more significant impact on our business and on our customer's budgets," he said, implying a possible margin crunch or rising prices.
The news was not taken well by the market.
The impetus will be on Five Below to make sure that tariff troubles are accounted for if the purported "ceasefire" turns out to be President Trump simply tweeting too soon.
At the very least, management led by president Joel D. Anderson will need to lay out a plan to deal with them without passing the buck, or maybe more appropriate "the dollar," to the consumer.
Five Below's earnings call will take place on Wednesday evening and will be available here.
Shares are flat one hour after the market close on Tuesday.