The company said comparable-store sales at its U.S. stores rose 2.6% in the fourth quarter, as traffic increased 1.6%. It was the 14th consecutive quarterly increase for U.S. comps. On a two-year stack, the company said that comp sales at U.S. stores rose 4.4%, the best performance in eight years.
Comp sales at its Sam’s Club unit increased 2.4% in the fourth quarter, led by comp traffic growth of 4.3%.
Walmart posted a 23% increase in e-commerce sales in the fourth quarter, compared to the 29% increase a year earlier and down from the third quarter’s 50% increase, as growth fueled by its acquisition of Jet. com began to diminish. For the full year, e-commerce sales rose 44%.
Walmart expects e-commerce growth of 40% in the current year.
Net sales at Walmart International rose 6.7% to $33.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Nine of 11 international markets posted positive comps in the period.
Consolidated operating income in fiscal 2018 declined 10.2% to $20.4 billion. The company generated $28.3 billion in operating cash flow in the fiscal year and returned $14.4 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, Walmart said.
“We have good momentum in the business, with solid sales growth across Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club and International,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer. “We’re making real progress putting our unique assets to work to serve our customers in all the ways the want to shop, and I want to thank our associates for their great work this past year. We’re making decisions to position the business for success and investing to win with customers and shareholders.”
The company forecast earnings of $4.75 to $5 a share for fiscal 2019 on an increase of 2% in U.S. comps.