Walmart Stock Hit by Decline in International Earnings

Source: courtesy of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) reported first-quarter fiscal 2014 results before markets opened this morning. The retailing giant posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.14 on revenues of $114.2 billion. In the same period a year ago, Walmart reported EPS of $1.09 on revenues of $113 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.15 and $116.42 billion in revenue.

Net sales grew 1.1% year-over-year, while the store’s memberships and other income rose 1.6%. Consolidated net income rose 1.1% to $3.8 billion. The best thing to say about any of these numbers is that they could have been worse.

Walmart guided second-quarter EPS in a range of $1.22 to $1.27, well below the consensus estimate of $1.29. The company said that investments in global e-commerce will clip $0.09 a share from Walmart’s full-year EPS and $0.02 a share from second-quarter earnings, which is equal to the impact on earnings in the first quarter. Online sales grew more than 30% year-over-year for the first quarter.

The company’s CEO said:

In a quarter marked by considerable headwinds to top line sales, Walmart delivered solid EPS growth of 4.6 percent. … Our expectations about our U.S. businesses’ performance, coupled with more discipline in International, will allow us to improve our performance throughout the year.

Walmart’s CFO noted that “the second quarter will be challenging, given expense pressures in International and in our corporate area.” Walmart has apparently decided that the best way for the company to improve sales and earnings is to cut expenses. It does not specifically say how it will do that, but a good guess would be cutting employees.

U.S. same-store sales for the quarter fell 1.2%, both including and excluding fuel sales. Customer traffic was down 1.8% although the average sales ticket rose 0.4%. For the second quarter, the company expects same-store sales to settle in the range of flat to up 2%.

Shares are down about 2.5% in premarket trading this morning, at $77.84 in a 52-week range of $58.95 to $79.96, and the high was posted yesterday. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $80.60 before today’s results were announced.

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