Will Walmart Earnings Be Enough to Put Smiles on Investors’ Faces? 

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Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) reported second-quarter fiscal year 2020 results before markets opened Thursday. The retailing giant posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.27 on net sales of $130.4 billion, including membership fees in Sam’s Club. In the same period a year ago, Walmart reported EPS of $1.29 on sales of $128.03 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.22 and $130.11 billion in sales.

GAAP EPS in the quarter totaled $1.26, including a $0.01 charge related to the company’s equity investment in JD.com.

U.S. same-store sales rose by 2.8%, excluding fuel sales, on net U.S. sales growth of 2.9% year over year. Same-store sales at U.S. Sam’s Club stores rose by 1.2%, a drop of 3.8 percentage points compared with the second quarter of last year. U.S. operating income rose 4% to $4.7 billion.

Walmart said e-commerce sales rose by 37%, including “strong growth in online grocery.”

After expressing the company’s commitment to safety following the shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas, CEO Doug McMillon commented:

From a performance point of view, we’re pleased with the strength we see in the business. Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making, the productivity loop is working, and we’re gaining market share. We’re on track to exceed our original earnings expectations for the year, and that’s possible because of the work our associates do every day.”

Walmart guided fiscal-year 2020 sales growth of at least 3% in constant currency and same-store sales growth at its U.S. stores “toward the upper end” of its original forecast of 2.5% to 3%, excluding fuel. International same-store sales growth is forecast at around 3% to 4%% in constant currency, down from 5% in the original forecast, and Sam’s Club growth estimate was unchanged at up 1%.

EPS is forecast in a range of a “slight decrease to a slight increase” year over year, including Flipkart and a mid- to high-single-digit increase excluding Flipkart. Both estimates are better than the original 2020 guidance. The company’s capital spending budget remained unchanged at $11 billion.

Free cash flow for the first six months of the 2020 fiscal year dipped from $6.81 billion last year to $6.31 billion this year. The company said it increased capital spending by $600 million.

Improved guidance along with top- and bottom-line beats stoked investors after Wednesday’s market meltdown. Both the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 had been trading lower in Thursday’s premarket until the Walmart report hit the wires.

Investors have lifted the share price by around 6.2% in Thursday’s premarket session to $112.77, in a 52-week range of $85.78 to $115.49. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $112.07.


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