Global 17 May, 2012
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter profit increased 9.2% after Walmart U.S., its biggest unit, reported a third straight quarterly same-store sales gain.
Net income in the quarter ended April 30 rose to $3.74 billion, or $1.09 a share, from $3.43 billion, or 97 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Total revenue at the Bentonville, Ark., discount retailer rose 8.5% to $113 billion. Sales increased 8.6% to $112.3 billion.
Wall Street analysts expected Wal-Mart WMT -0.27% to earn $1.04 a share on sales of $110.5 billion, according to a survey by FactSet Research.
Wal-Mart said it expects second-quarter profit of $1.13 to $1.18 a share, compared to the Wall Street estimate of $1.16 a share. Wal-Mart stock, a Dow component, rose 3% in premarket trading.
Walmart U.S. sales rose 5.9% to $66.3 billion. Outside of U.S., sales jumped 15% to $32.1 billion. Sam’s Club sales rose 7.9% to $13.9 billion.
Same-store sales rose 3%, including a 2.6% increase at Walmart U.S..
Both traffic and transaction amount rose at the company’s biggest unit. All merchandise units saw comparable sales growth with the exception of entertainment products, Wal-Mart said. The unit has posted its third straight comparable sales gain as Wal-Mart invested in lowering prices to win back perception among some shoppers that its prices are no longer the lowest.
“In a highly competitive retail environment, Walmart U.S. is increasing price separation across categories and driving increased traffic to both the grocery and general merchandise areas of our stores,” Chief Executive Mike Duke said.
The unit also has benefited from its move to add back more than 10,000 items to its shelves.
Still, the improvement at Walmart U.S., which analysts indicate was key to the stock’s upside, has been overshadowed by investigation into whether the company bribed Mexican officials to accelerate its store growth in its largest overseas market.
The company reported a 5.3% gain at its membership warehouse club chain Sam’s Club.