Wal-Mart Stores Inc. saw its U.S. comparable sales expand for the first time in seven quarters, although it remained cautious about holiday.
For the three months ended Oct. 31, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant posted net income of $3.71 billion, or $1.15 a diluted share, 0.4 percent below the $3.73 billion, or $1.14, recorded in last year’s quarter. The EPS figures were 3 cents higher than the $1.12 result expected, on average, by analysts.
Total revenues rose 2.9 percent to $119 billion, from $115.69 billion in last year’s third quarter. Comps moved ahead 0.5 percent. During the 13-week period ended Oct. 31, Wal-Mart’s U.S. comp-store sales increased 0.5 percent. Total revenue increased 2.9 percent over last year’s third quarter to $119 billion. Global Internet sales surged 21 percent and the international division posted a 1.7 percent sales increase to $33.7 billion.
Net sales at Wal-Mart U.S. rose 3.4 percent to $70 billion from $67.7 billion in the 2013 quarter.
“We need to continue to improve the customer experience, both in our stores and online, to deliver stronger sales growth and strengthen our bottom line performance,” said Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer.
Despite lower fuel prices for consumers and an onslaught of initiatives that include five days of Black Friday deals, a new ad campaign and a holiday newsroom, Wal-Mart was guarded about its fourth quarter prospects.
Wal-Mart expects U.S. comps to be between flat and up 1 percent in the fourth quarter after declining 0.4 percent in the 2013 period.
The retailer saw strength in Neighborhood Markets, where comps rose 5.5 percent. The format, which is smaller than a SuperCenter, is being rolled out.
There was progress in several international markets, but sales were challenged in the U.K., where comps fell 1.8 percent, and China, where comps declined 2.3 percent.
Sam’s Club net sales grew 2.3 percent to $12.7 billion and operating income without fuel, rose 5.3 percent to $455 million from $432 million. Comps at Sam’s Club, excluding fue1 for the 13-week period ending Jan. 30, 2015 are expected to be between flat and up 2 percent. Last year, comp sales, excluding fuel, fell 0.1 percent for the 14-week period ended Jan. 31, 2014.