Tags: Wal-Mart | Quarter | US | Sales

Wal-Mart Posts Solid Quarter as US Sales Inch Higher

Tuesday, 21 Feb 2012 07:28 AM

Wal-Mart Stores Inc's fourth-quarter profit came in just short of Wall Street's expectations, sending its shares down 2.6 percent, as it cut prices to win over U.S. shoppers during the holiday season.

Wal-Mart U.S., the biggest division of the world's largest retailer, has been lowering prices, bringing back a wider variety of items and focusing on a low-price message to woo shoppers on limited budgets who started to shop at dollar stores and elsewhere in recent years. Traffic at those stores rose after six quarterly declines.

Wal-Mart U.S. posted a 1.5 percent increase in sales at stores open at least a year. It was the second quarter in a row that Wal-Mart U.S. same-store sales rose after nine consecutive quarterly declines.

However, operating income growth at Wal-Mart U.S. grew at a slower rate than sales. Gross profit margin declined as the company made investments in its pricing strategy.

The rise in sales was also not as strong as analysts expected. Wal-Mart expected Wal-Mart U.S. same-store sales would be flat to up 2 percent, compared with a 1.8 percent drop a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a rise of 1.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Shares of Wal-Mart, which were up 4.6 percent so far this year through Friday's closing price of $62.48, fell $1.65, or 2.6 percent, to $61.20 in premarket trading.

Wal-Mart earned $5.19 billion, or $1.51 per share from continuing operations attributable to the company, up from $5.02 billion, or $1.41 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding about 7 cents per share from certain tax matters and real estate transactions, Wal-Mart earned $1.44 per share. The company had forecast a profit of $1.42 to $1.48 per share, which did not include the benefits.

Analysts, on average, expected it to earn $1.45 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 5.8 percent to $122.29 billion.

Wal-Mart forecast first-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to the company of $1.01 to $1.06, compared with a profit of 98 cents per share a year earlier, which included a lift of 1 cent from multiple items.

The company expects Wal-Mart U.S. same-store sales to be flat to up 2 percent in the first quarter.

It forecast fiscal year earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to the company of $4.72 to $4.92. In fiscal 2012 it earned $4.54 per share including 5 cents of benefits.

Wal-Mart's international business grew at a faster clip than the larger Wal-Mart U.S. Operating income at Wal-Mart International rose 15.2 percent to nearly $2.31 billion, while Wal-Mart U.S. operating income rose 1.4 percent to $6.11 billion.

On Monday, Wal-Mart said it was taking a controlling stake in Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian to expand its international reach.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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2012-28-21
Tuesday, 21 Feb 2012 07:28 AM
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