Walmart Posts U.S. Comp Sales Decline, Lowers Forecast

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Walmart checkoutBentonville, AR—Walmart booked mixed third-quarter results, with a drop in comparable U.S. sales, increased group profits and an “improvement” in domestic apparel sales.

For the quarter ended Oct. 25, U.S. comparable store sales fell 0.3%, hurt by what the retail giant described as a “competitive” retail environment. Traffic was down 0.4%, while average ticket edged up 0.1%.

Walmart said it expects U.S. comparable sales to be flat in the fourth quarter, which includes holiday.

Throughout the quarter, the retailer said it continued to see “strength” in apparel, produce, home and wireless. Apparel reported a low single-digit positive comp in the U.S. stores.

Cautious Consumers

“We remain focused on basics and the addition of national brands, both of which continue to deliver results,” CEO Mike Duke said on the retailer’s conference call. “We saw sales improve throughout the quarter in our men’s, ladies’ and children’s departments, due to a strong fall seasonal assortment.”

Group net sales rose 1.6% to $114.9 billion from $113.1 billion a year earlier. Consolidated net income reached $3.7 billion, up 2.8% on $3.6 billion last year. That was 1 cent higher than analysts were expecting.

Walmart international sales edged up 0.3% to $33.1 billion. Sales would have increased 4.1% to $34.4 billion, however, revenues were negatively affected by currency exchange fluctuations.

“Walmart delivered solid earnings growth that was within our guidance range,” said Duke.

For the full year, Walmart lowered its earnings per share forecast to between $5.01 and $5.11 a share, down from its previous forecast for between $5.10 and $5.30 a share.

Walmart also projected its fourth quarter earnings at $1.60 to $1.70 while analysts’ consensus expects $1.69 a share.

“That low-end consumer is just not willing to step out and buy those discretionary items,” said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough.