Walmart's online sales soar 63 percent in Q1

Wal-Mart Stores scored another increase in sales at its US Walmart stores according to first-quarter results released on Thursday, but earnings dipped on higher expenses.

Earnings per share rose 2% to $1.00, up from 98 cents a year ago, and beating industry estimates of 96 cents a share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations.

Total revenues were up 1.4% to $117.5 billion versus the quarter a year previous while net sales were up 1.3% to $116.5 billion.

Now there are signs that it is paying off: Walmart on Thursday reported a robust 63 percent surge in online sales in the most recent quarter. "Our plan is gaining traction ..." The stock touched 52-week High of $76.78 on 05/09/17 and 52-week Low of $60.99 on 01/27/17.

Wal-Mart's report stood out amid a largely gloomy environment for retailers, after chains like Macy's, Kohl's, J.C. Penney and Target saw declines in comparable-store sales.

Walmart's $3 billion acquisition of the online retailer also helped the company boost e-commerce sales.

Online business is soaring at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. But those gains are being supported by heavy investments, including buying up e-commerce companies, expanded online inventory and investments to speed up shipping times.

In the fourth quarter, Wal-Mart's e-commerce growth was 29.0 percent while gross merchandise value jumped 36.1 percent.

Cisco Systems fell 7.2 percent a day after the internet gear maker said it expects revenue in its fiscal third quarter to be down from a year earlier.

Executives warned analysts that the first quarter would likely be Target's weakest in 2017 since numerous investments it is rolling out to revive the business, such as remodeling stores and launching new private-label brands, would not impact sales until later months.

"Their strategy of being aggressive on price and investing in it is driving consumers into the store, particularly on the grocery side", said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics LLC.

But Target continued to struggle in the quarter with lower sales in grocery and essentials, which drive shopping trips to the store.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has leaned heavily into its online efforts and improved stores to compete. That's up 10 million from a year ago.

To accelerate its e-commerce business, Wal-Mart has been acquiring small online retail startups. "Marc Lore is doing a lot of great things for this business". However, sales of those items strengthened as the quarter progressed.

For the 13-week period ending July 28, the company projects comp sales at Walmart grow 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent and Sam's Club to grow 1 percent to 1.5 percent, both excluding fuel. While the US comp increase of 1.4% was about as expected, traffic growth of 1.5% (which accelerated on a two and three year basis) and e-commerce growth (an 80 bps contribution) surprised to the upside.

WMT's momentum continued, as the company reported another quarter of relatively solid top-line performance while delivering its first increase in US earnings in over three years.

The Arkansas-based home of the yellow smiley face reported profits that topped forecasts and an increase in same-store sales (which measures how well stores open at least a year are doing) that was also better than expected. The division was led by results from China and Mexico.

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