Walmart Lowers Capex Spending, Cuts Sales Growth Estimate

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Source: courtesy of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Late Wednesday afternoon Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced at its investors’ day event that capital spending for the company’s next fiscal year ending in January 2016 will fall into a range of $11.6 to $12.9 billion including $1.2 to $1.5 billion for e-commerce and digital initiatives. That is below the expected capex range for the current fiscal year of $12.5 to $13 billion, which has been lowered from a February projection for capex of $12.4 to $13.4 billion.

Net sales growth for the current fiscal year are now forecast at 2% to 3% higher than last year’s total of $473.1 billion. For the 2016 fiscal year the company now forecasts growth of 2% to 4%, or about $10 to $20 billion. These estimates are not out of line with the consensus estimates for net sales of $487.6 billion in fiscal year 2015 and $504.9 billion in 2016, up $17.3 billion.

Walmart plans to expand its digital presence and cut spending on its physical expansion. Net retail square feet additions will drop from 32 to 34 million square feet this fiscal year to a new range of 26 to 30 million square feet next year. The retail giant said that the changes in planned capex are related to the change in mix of spending toward more digital growth and a moderation of physical store growth.

The company is cutting its forecast for unit growth in its small format stores from its February guidance of 270 to 300 to a new total of about 240. That number will decline again, to a range of around 200 to 220 new small format stores in 2016. U.S. supercenters, Walmart’s largest stores, will add about 120 units in the current fiscal year, up from the 115 in the February forecast. Additions will drop to about 60 to 70 new stores in fiscal year 2016.

In other words, until Walmart can figure out where its growth is going to come from, the company is going to cut back on brick-and-mortar investment in favor of digital growth. The company is expecting 40% annual growth in each of the next three fiscal years on top of the $12.5 billion in e-commerce sales it expects to get in 2015. That’s nice, but only totals around $34 billion by 2018. Total revenues, remember, are currently around $490 billion.

Walmart’s stock is down about 3.7% at $75.05 after the announcement in a 52-week range of $71.69 to $81.37.

ALSO READ: Gap to Hire More Seasonal Holiday Workers Than Walmart!

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