What to Expect From Wal-Mart Earnings

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is scheduled to report its fiscal third-quarter financial results before the markets open on Thursday. This mega-store has easily been one of the top performing Dow stocks in 2016, and looking ahead to earnings there is no reason to expect a change. Wal-Mart has seen rising traffic consistently for nearly the past two years, and rising comparable sales in this time as well.

The consensus estimates are $0.96 in earnings per share (EPS) and $118.69 billion in revenue. The same period from last year reportedly had EPS of $0.99 and $117.41 billion in revenue.

Several years ago, the dollar stores were taking handily from Wal-Mart, showing that they were at the same stage as Wal-Mart was in back in the 1990s. Now Wal-Mart is fighting back, and it appears that it is winning through multiple avenues, including e-commerce.

In a recent report, Credit Suisse raised its rating on Wal-Mart to Outperform from Neutral. The firm also raised its price target to $80 from $62. The report said:

Walmart’s in-store investments and a better low-end consumer have yielded the return of traffic growth against a deteriorating staples retail landscape. While there is more work to do, early progress has been encouraging. We see a continuation of top-line momentum as management invests further, and although earnings growth is limited, risk to consensus looks low. This set-up should yield outperformance in an uninspiring coverage universe.

Also during this quarter, the company announced that it would acquire Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock. Reports of a possible acquisition had become public, so the announcement was expected. The Jet.com deal leads to the obvious question: How does this acquisition help Wal-Mart put a bigger dent in Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce? Wal-Mart said that the combined company will “leverage innovative technology solutions from both companies to develop new offerings to help customers save time and money.” It’s really anybody’s guess as to what that means.

So far in 2016, Wal-Mart has outperformed the broad markets, with the stock up nearly 17%. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock is up 19%.

Shares of Wal-Mart were last seen at $71.57 on Wednesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $74.85 and a 52-week trading range of $58.32 to $72.06.