Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 13.4 percent after aggressive holiday advertising helped boost sales by 8.6 percent.
But Wal-Mart shares slipped as the retailer's fourth-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street projections, and it also forecast a profit outlook that is below Wall Street projections.
Net income rose to $3.6 billion, or 86 cents per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31 from $3.2 billion, or 75 cents per share, a year ago.
Earnings in the latest quarter included a $103 million net tax benefit that boosted net income by 2 cents per share.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer last month said it expected earnings at the low end of a range of 82 to 86 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had projected earnings of 83 cents per share.
Wal-Mart reported total fourth-quarter net sales of $89.3 billion and total revenue of $90.1 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $90.4 billion.
In the Wal-Mart division, which includes discount stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Market grocery stores, sales were up 8.6 percent to $60.2 billion in the quarter. Sales at Sam's Club warehouse stores rose 6.8 percent to $10.65 billion, and the international division posted a sales increase of 9.6 percent to $18.4 billion.
Wal-Mart said it is optimistic about the current fiscal year because of efforts it launched last year to offer trendier products in competition with smaller rival Target Corp. Wal-Mart hopes new merchandise and a revamped store interior will get people who are already in its stores for basics to spend more money on other products.
"We want customers to shop Wal-Mart for all their needs, from consumables to electronics, home decor and apparel," Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott said in a statement.
As part of the strategy, Wal-Mart has previously announced it will remodel 1,800 of its nearly 3,200 U.S. stores in the next 18 months to give them a more open, inviting look and improve the shopping experience.
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