Sat | Oct 31, 2020

A rare miss for Walmart to end the year

Published:Wednesday | February 19, 2020 | 12:21 AM
This June 25, 2019 file photo shows the entrance to a Walmart in Pittsburgh. Walmart is reporting  disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales. The nation’s largest retailer says that sales at its US stores heading into the holiday season were weaker than expected. It also said that social unrest in Chile hurt its business.
This June 25, 2019 file photo shows the entrance to a Walmart in Pittsburgh. Walmart is reporting disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales. The nation’s largest retailer says that sales at its US stores heading into the holiday season were weaker than expected. It also said that social unrest in Chile hurt its business.

Walmart reported disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales after a sluggish and shortened holiday shopping season.

Violent social protests in Chile cut into international sales.

Walmart also delivered a weak profit forecast for the year, sending shares down about 1% before the opening bell Tuesday.

It’s a rare miss for Walmart, which has distanced itself from rivals through strong online grocery sales while holding its own against Amazon.com.

Walmart is the first major retailer to report fiscal fourth-quarter results, and the numbers underscore a multitude of challenges that retailers faced this holiday season. It was the shortest holiday shopping season since 2013, leaving retailers the figure out how to get people thinking about the holidays sooner.

Walmart and Target have stood out among retailers, having ramped up deliveries and other conveniences for customers, but Target also struggled during the holiday due to weak sales of toys and electronics.

Walmart continued to produce strong results from its grocery aisles, helped by expanded online delivery. It now has thousands of locations for grocery pickup and more than 1,400 locations that offer grocery delivery.

Walmart same store sales increased 1.9% in the quarter, well below the 3.2% increase in the previous period. It was, however, the 22nd consecutive quarter of same-store sales gains.

Online sales rose 35%, weaker than the 41% increase booked in the previous quarter.

Quarterly net income was $4.14 billion, or $1.45 per share, in the quarter ended January 31. That compares with $3.69 billion, or $1.27 per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share was $1.38. Analysts were expecting $1.44 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 2.1% to $140.6 billion, shy of the $141.5 billion Wall Street was looking for.

Separately, Walmart approved an annual cash dividend for fiscal year 2021 of $2.16 per share, an increase from the $2.12 per share paid for the last fiscal year. The fiscal year 2021 annual dividend of $2.16 per share will be paid in four quarterly instalments of $0.54 per share,

Walmart expects annual per-share earnings of between $5 and $5.15, short of the $5.21 that industry analysts had projected, and Walmart said Tuesday that its outlook does not include potential damage from the viral outbreak in China, where the company has significant operations.

AP