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May 19, 2020

News | Business | Retail: Walmart earnings soar as e-commerce sales jump, shoppers flock to stores

Melissa Repko

People wearing masks and gloves wait to enter a Walmart on April 17, 2020 in Uniondale, New York.
Al Bello | Getty Images
Walmart shares rose nearly 4% after the retailer said its e-commerce investments helped prepare it for a crisis the company couldn't foresee: A pandemic that caused shoppers to flock online to buy groceries, cleaning items and other essentials as they tried to stay safe and at home.
The big-box retailer's e-commerce sales in the U.S. shot up by 74% and its same-store sales grew by 10% in the first quarter.
The company withdrew its financial outlook for the year Tuesday, citing the "unprecedented variability" in the economy because of the coronavirus pandemic. It also said it was phasing out, the e-commerce company it bought for $3.3 billion in 2016, saying the acquisition fueled its e-commerce strategy
Here's what Walmart reported for the first quarter ended April 30:
  • Earnings per share: $1.18 adjusted
  • Revenue: $134.62 billion
Walmart reported net income rose to $3.99 billion, or $1.40 per share, from $3.84 billion, or $1.33 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, Walmart earned $1.18 per share.
Total revenues grew by 8.6% to $134.62 billion from $123.9 billion a year prior, exceeding Wall Street's expectations.
Same-store sales grew by 10% in the U.S., beating expectations for 7.2%, according to StreetAccount consensus estimates.
The pandemic has shaken up customers' shopping behaviors and made earnings difficult for analysts to predict.
The retailer's online sales growth was 74%,  significantly above the 37% growth that the company had the same quarter a year ago.
Walmart has kept stores open as an essential retailer during the coronavirus pandemic. It had a surge in sales in the early weeks of the pandemic as customers stockpiled groceries, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Instead of going to stores, customers turned to online shopping, with many buying different kinds of items — such as hair color, beard trimmers and sewing machines — as they anticipated spending more time in their homes because of the outbreak.
To keep up with demand, it hired 200,000 employees to help clean stores, stock shelves and fulfill online orders.

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