Wal­mart’s domestic business continued to show strong results in the second quarter, and overall results exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Management narrowed and raised its earnings guidance for the full 2013 fiscal year, but its revised projection barely met analysts’ average forecast.


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Inside This Issue - News

Walmart still strong

September 17th, 2012

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal­mart’s domestic business continued to show strong results in the second quarter, and overall results exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Management narrowed and raised its earnings guidance for the full 2013 fiscal year, but its revised projection barely met analysts’ average forecast.

Consolidated net income for the three months ended July 31 rose 5.7% to $4.02 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share, just beating the consensus of $1.17 per share from analysts polled by Thomson Reu­ters and meeting the high end of management’s May guidance.

First half income from continuing operations improved 7.3% to $7.76 billion. Including a $28 million loss from discontinued operations in the fiscal 2012 span, consolidated net income was up 7.8% from $7.20 billion a year ago.

Second quarter net sales gained 4.5% to $113.53 billion, despite a negative currency exchange hit from a stronger dollar. On a constant currency basis, consolidated net sales would have risen 4.7% to $113.78 billion. Total comparable-store sales in the United States expanded 2.5%; including the Sam’s Club fuel business, comps advanced 2.4%.

Net sales for the half, meanwhile, grew 6.5% to $225.81 billion, as U.S. comparable-store results improved 2.8% both with and without fuel.

Other income, which includes such items as Sam’s Club membership fees and fees for financial services, rose 4.7% to $762 million in the second quarter. Consequently, total revenues advanced 4.5% to $114.30 billion, short of the $115.75 billion forecast by analysts. For the half, other income edged up 0.4% to $1.51 billion, giving the company a 6.4% increase in total revenues to $227.31 billion.

Operating income for the second quarter moved up 4.9% to $6.70 billion, outstripping sales growth — an important metric for Walmart management. Gross margin contracted 18 basis points to 24.55%, in line with management’s plans. The margin erosion was offset by another quarter of leveraged operating, selling, general and administrative (OSG&A) expense, which receded 20 basis points to 19.20% of total revenues.

Half-year operating income rose 6.6% to $13.09 billion, even though gross margin lost 23 basis points to 24.34%. As in the quarter, the margin decline was set aside by improvement on the expense line, with the OSG&A ratio retreating 26 basis points to 19.09% of revenues.

Second quarter net interest expense dropped 12.6% to $505 million, largely as a result of lower interest accruals on tax-related matters and reduced debt levels, according to senior vice president and treasurer Jeff Davis. Year-to-date interest expense decreased 5.1% to $1.04 billion. Consequently, pretax income grew faster than operating profit, increasing 6.7% to $6.19 billion for the quarter and rising 7.7% to $12.04 billion for the six months.

"Walmart had a strong second quarter, and I’m pleased with the earnings and overall results," said president and chief executive officer Mike Duke in a statement. "We had positive comp sales in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, as well as each of our international markets. Our intense focus on delivering productivity initiatives and reducing costs allowed us to invest in lower prices for our customers and to deliver strong profitability."

Turning to Walmart’s different operating segments, operating income at the Walmart U.S. division (which includes Supercenters, discount stores, supermarkets and small-format stores), gained 5.3% to $5.25 billion on sales that advanced 3.8% to $67.36 billion. Comparable-store sales for the division rose 2.2% following a 0.9% decline a year ago (see accompanying story for details on the top-line performance at Walmart U.S.).

Operating profit for the half expanded 6.6% to $10.28 billion on a 4.8% rise in sales to $133.70 billion, as comparable-store results grew 2.4% following a 1% dip in the fiscal 2012 span.

Results for the Sam’s Club division, meanwhile, maintained momentum. Operating profit climbed 10.1% to $536 million, outpacing a sales increase of 3.8% to $14.16 billion. Excluding fuel, net sales for Sam’s rose 4.6% to $12.5 billion, while operating income escalated 10.8%. Comparable-club sales expanded 4.2% on top of a 5.5% gain last year. Including fuel, comps escalated 3.4% following a 9.1% gain in the fiscal 2012 period. Membership fees and other income for Sam’s grew 4.6% during the quarter.

First half operating profit for Sam’s escalated 8.9% to $1.03 billion, as the division’s top line advanced 5.8% to $28.02 billion. Comparable-club sales rose 4.7%, and climbed 4.8% with the contribution of fuel.

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