When Wal-Mart reported fourth-quarter results in February, the company forecast first-quarter EPS of $0.95 to $1.10. The company also forecast full-year fiscal 2016 EPS at $4.70 to $5.05, which was below the consensus call at the time for $5.19 in EPS. Since then, analysts have cut the consensus full-year EPS estimate to $4.87.
In its fourth quarter ended in January, the company beat the EPS estimate by seven cents but was short on revenues. In the third quarter of 2014, ended last October, Wal-Mart beat the consensus revenue estimates for the first time in seven quarters. If we had to place a bet, our money would be on another earnings beat and a shortfall on revenues.
Expectations for U.S. same-store sales call for an increase of 1.6% at both the supercenter and discount store division and at the Sam’s Club division. The fourth quarter marked the second consecutive one for a U.S. same-store sales increase. Total international sales tumbled nearly 4% in the fourth quarter
U.S. same-store sales rose 0.5% in the third quarter and 1.5% in the fourth quarter in the company’s supercenter and discount stores.
Wal-Mart needs to continue boosting its sales, and the outlook for that is mixed at best. The company’s plan to boost wages for its lowest-paid employees may pay off eventually, but for now it will weigh down profits. The company’s online sales growth was lower in the fourth quarter of 2015 than it was in the prior year, and that is not good. Sales in China have faltered and the company has cut back on physical expansion plans, and online sales growth has trailed competitors like JD.com.
For the world’s largest retailer, first-quarter results are all about revenues, and the outlook for large improvement on that front is no better than cloudy with a chance of rain.
Wal-Mart stock traded up about 0.5% at $79.64 shortly before noon on Monday. The stock’s 52-week range is $72.61 to $90.97, and the consensus price target is $84.39. The high target is $100.00.