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In an era of inflation, Walmart's future is looking brighter

The retailer has boosted its annual outlook again
8/18/2023

Walmart reported strong second-quarter sales results as the retailer's low-price model continues to attract budget conscious consumers in a tough economic environment.

The largest retailer in the U.S. boosted its annual outlook again, sending shares up as much as 2% before the opening bell Thursday (August 17).

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, earned $7.89 billion, or $2.92 per share, for the three-month period ended July 31. Adjusted results were $1.84 per share, or 13 cents better than Wall Street had expected, according to a survey of industry analysts by FactSet. It was also up from last year's quarterly profit of $5.15 billion.

Sale rose nearly 6% to $161.63 billion, a shade better than expected.

Walmart International net sales were $27 billion, up 11%.

READ: Walmart Canada's new CEO talks tech, data and delivering value

Comparable store sales those from established stores and online operating over the past 12 months rose 6.4% at Walmart's U.S. division. That compares with 7.4% in the quarter ended April and the 8.3% during the fourth quarter. Global online sales surged 24%, down 2% from the previous period.

Walmart also has said shoppers remain cautious, trading down to private label goods from more expensive national brands.

Walmart slashed the price of its online subscription shopping service in half for those on government assistance, to keep those customers. Walmart said the Walmart+ service will cost $49 a year, or $6.47 per month for those on Medicaid, Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps) or other programs. Its regular membership costs $98 annually.

READ: Judith McKenna to retire as Walmart International president & CEO

Walmart launched its subscription service in 2020, and has been adding more perks as a way to compete with Amazon Prime, which was unveiled in 2005. Amazon's annual membership now costs $139 per year, and it also has been adding benefits. The online retailer began offering discounts to those on government assistance in 2017.

Walmart said Thursday it expects sales to be up 3% and anticipates $1.45 per share to $1.50 per share for the current quarter. For the year, it now projects sales to be up 4% to 4.5% and shares to be $6.36 per share to $6.46 per share. In the previous quarter, it had projected sales to be up 3.5% and anticipated a per share range of $6.10 to $6.20 per share for the year.

Analysts had expected $1.49 per share for the current quarter and $6.30 per share for the year, according to FactSet.

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