Despite Economy, Walmart Delivers Solid Q3

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Despite Economy, Walmart Delivers Solid Q3

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday posted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 of 84 cents, exceeding the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailers’s guidance of 78 cents to 82 cents. Walmart earned 77 cents per share from continuing operations in the year-ago period.

Net sales for the third quarter came to $98.667 billion, a rise of 1.1 percent from $97.619 billion last year. Income from continuing operations grew to $3.246 billion from $3.033 billion in year-ago period, on a reported basis.

“Increased productivity and improved inventory management led to a better customer experience and contributed to our strong financial performance,” noted Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke. “The sales environment continued to be difficult this quarter, but customer traffic is up throughout the company. We gained market share, especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico, as customers around the globe continued to count on Walmart for quality and low prices.”

Productivity initiatives and efficient inventory management drove the Walmart U.S. division’s solid third-quarter performance. Operating income went up 6.9 percent on a sales increase of 1.2 percent. Although comps were below expectations, continued growth in customer traffic and market share gains, particularly in grocery and health and wellness, revealed the strength of the underlying business.

During the quarter, Sam’s Club upgraded and added memberships from its eValues program. Gross margin rose from improved margin mix. The division additionally boosted operating profits and expense management. Comps were within its guidance, as a result of strong food, consumables and HBC sales.

Sales for the International segment rose 12.1 percent and operating income grew 9.2 percent, both on a constant currency basis. Price leadership and strong fundamental operating performance are still spurring market share gains in every major market, according to the company.

“We continue to operate in a very challenging economy and remain dedicated to provide the lowest prices to our customers around the world,” said Walmart EVP and CFO Tom Schoewe. “We believe Walmart is positioned better than any other retailer to succeed with customers this holiday season.”

Schoewe added that the company anticipated diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 to be between $1.08 and $1.12, so it was raising the range of its guidance for diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for the full fiscal year to $3.57 to $3.61, from $3.50 to $3.60.

Wal-Mart operates over 8,000 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries, and employs more than 2.1 million associates globally.