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Walmart shares rise as retailer lifts guidance, posts first-quarter earnings beat

Published 05/16/2024, 07:06 AM
Updated 05/16/2024, 09:20 AM
© Reuters.

Investing.com -- Walmart (NYSE:WMT) reported first-quarter results that topped analysts' expectations and lifted its full-year guidance, as the bargain-cost big-box store was boosted by strength in its e-commerce business.

Shares in the Arkansas-based group gained more than 6% in early U.S. trading on Thursday. 

Known for its cut-price merchandise, Walmart has faced increasing competition from the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and PDD Group's Temu in its bid to secure rising demand from digital shoppers in the U.S. Online retail spending in the country spiked by 7% between January to April as price-conscious consumers searched for deals, according to a report from Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Analytics last week.

Solid performance at its pick-up and delivery service drove a 22% uptick in Walmart's e-commerce sales in the U.S. during the three months ended on April 30. Globally, e-commerce sales surged by 21% as Walmart said the presence of its digital offerings "is higher across all markets."

Walmart noted its "value-convenience proposition" is resonating in particular with customers in the U.S., adding that it has even seen share gains in upper-income households that have recently chosen pricier shopping alternatives. The company's members-only unit, Sam's Club, also posted "solid" sales growth that was fueled by demand for grocery and other essential items.

"[Walmart's] results remain among the most impressive in the consumer/retail landscape, driven by broad market share gains," analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets wrote.

Net sales in the U.S. climbed by 4.6% versus the year ago period to $108.7 billion. Total revenue, meanwhile, spiked by 6% to $161.51 billion, above projections of $159.58 billion. 

Adjusted earnings per share of $0.60 beat Bloomberg consensus estimates of $0.53, thanks in part to a $1.6 billion decline in inventories to $55.4 billion. Elevated inventories have threatened to push up Walmart's costs and dent margins. 

"The main positive is that Walmart is growing traffic, topline and share while also managing margin well," analysts at Evercore ISI said.

The firm said that it now expects consolidated net sales and adjusted operating income in its 2025 fiscal year to be at the "high-end or slightly above" its original guidance. Consolidated net sales were previously seen increasing by 3.0% to 4.0%, while operating profit was predicted to advance by 4.0% to 6.0%.

"From a stock standpoint, we think the result is better-than-feared, with raised guidance notable in conjunction with [first-quarter] results," analysts at Stifel said in a note to clients.

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