Walmart surges to all-time high as earnings beat on high-income shopper, e-commerce gains


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People walk near the entrance of a Walmart store in Miami, Florida, on May 14, 2024.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Walmart will report earnings on Thursday, as investors look to the nation’s largest retailer to gauge the health of American consumers and the strength of the industry.

Here is what Wall Street expects for the discounter, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG:

  • Earnings per share: 52 cents adjusted expected
  • Revenue: $159.50 billion

As the nation’s largest retailer and private employer, Walmart is often viewed as a bellwether for the U.S. economy. Yet, it has generally fared better during an inflationary period than other retailers because it sells staples such as groceries and has a value-oriented reputation.

Even so, the discounter has felt inflation as its customers toss fewer items in shopping carts and show reluctance to spring for pricier items such as TVs or computers.

This week brought promising news for Walmart and other retailers. Inflation eased in April, according to the Labor Department data released Wednesday. The consumer price index was up 3.4% year over year. The closely watched number tracks how much goods and services cost at the cash register.

Walmart expects sales to grow in the quarter and full year. The company said in February that it anticipates consolidated net sales will rise 4% to 5% in its fiscal first quarter. It also expected adjusted earnings per share of $1.48 to $1.56 on a prestock split basis. The company did a three-to-one stock split in February.

Walmart has been slashing spending in some areas and investing heavily in others. Earlier this week, the company said it would lay off and relocate hundreds of its corporate employees, including the transfer of many to its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. That move came on the heels of another cost-cutting measure: shuttering its Walmart health clinics, a network of doctor and dentist offices that had opened next to its stores.

On the other hand, the big-box retailer has poured money into other efforts. As it chases advertising dollars, Walmart announced in February that it will acquire smart TV maker Vizio in a $2.3 billion deal. It is also upgrading and modernizing more than 1,400 stores across the country. It recently launched a new private-label grocery brand with items and flavors aimed at younger and more affluent shoppers.

Shares of Walmart closed on Wednesday at $59.83, bringing the company’s market share to $482.22 billion. The company’s stock is up nearly 14% so far this year, surpassing the roughly 11% gains of the S&P 500 during the same period.

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