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Parking Lots Help Predict Earnings

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Parking Lots Help Predict Earnings: "Satellite images aren’t just useful for protecting national security, looking up online directions and checking out your roof on Google Earth anymore. Now market analysts are spying on us from above. UBS Investment Research has started incorporating analysis of satellite images of the parking lots of big-box retailers into its earnings estimates, reports CNBC, forecasting an uptick in sales based on parking lot traffic where a drop was previously expected.

It turns out that rather than a 1 percent decline in sales for Walmart in the second quarter compared to year ago, relatively full parking lots indicate a 0.7 percent gain in sales for the quarter.

Satellite picture of a Walmart parking lot

UBS bought its satellite data and analysis from a startup called Remote Sensing Metrics, which built a model for how customer flow presages quarterly earnings. Remote Sensing found that Walmart parking lot traffic was up 4 percent in June from a year ago, pr…