Wal-Mart profit falls 21% in 4th quarter, 6% for year

Posted: February 20, 2014 at 6:35 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2014 at 11:23 a.m.

Wal-Mart on Thursday reported a 21 percent decrease in net income in the fourth quarter and a nearly 6 percent decrease for the year.

The Bentonville-based retail giant said consolidated net income attributable to Wal-Mart was $4.4 billion in the quarter that ended Jan. 31, down from $5.6 billion in 2013. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Wal-Mart were $1.34, down nearly 20 percent from $1.67 a year before.

Net sales in the quarter increased 1.4 percent to $128.8 billion from a previous $127 million and would have been more if not for about $1.8 billion lost due to "currency exchange rate fluctuations," Wal-Mart said. Total revenue was up 1.5 percent to $129.7 billion, from nearly $127.8 billion a year before.

For the fiscal year, Wal-Mart's consolidated net income was $16 billion, down 5.7 percent from nearly $17 billion the year before. Diluted earnings per share fell 3.2 percent, from $5.01 to $4.85. Consolidated net sales and total revenue each increased 1.6 percent.

Wal-Mart said the earnings per share would have been 26 cents higher for the year and fourth quarter if not for staff restructuring at Sam's Club, one Sam's Club closure and several impacts from foreign operations, including non-income tax contingencies in Brazil, store closures there and in China, and lease expense charges in China.

Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, said the retailer would "continue to grow our global business by focusing on customers and serving them how they want to be served." He said Wal-Mart would look to boost comparable-store sales (which were down at U.S. Wal-Marts 0.4 percent in the quarter and 0.6 percent for the year), continue focusing on Wal-Mart's online strategy and open more smaller locations.

"We’ll invest aggressively in e-commerce and increase our small store rollout in the U.S., as we’ve done in several other countries, to deliver value and convenience," McMillon said in a news release. "... The combination of supercenters and smaller formats closer to customers’ homes, along with e-commerce and mobile commerce, will enable us to increase our relevance for the Walmart brand around the world."

Wal-Mart on Thursday also announced its board approved a $1.92 cash dividend for fiscal year 2015, a 2 percent increase from $1.88 paid in 2014.

A pre-recorded call on the earnings report will be available at www.stock.walmart.com or by calling (877) 523-5612 and using passcode 9256278.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.