Wal-Mart foresees 4th-quarter profit at low end of forecast

Posted: January 31, 2014 at 7:42 a.m.

Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Friday said fourth-quarter profit will fall at or just below the low end of its previous forecast, citing a reduction in food-stamp benefits and hits to U.S. sales caused by winter storms.

U.S. same-store sales and those in the company's Sam's Club warehouse division will be less than forecast for the quarter ending Friday, the company said in a statement. The retailer cited a greater-than-expected negative effect on sales from the Nov. 1 reduction of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp, benefits, plus eight named winter storms that resulted in store closures and drove down customer traffic.

In reviewing its third-quarter performance on Nov. 14, the world's largest retailer projected fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.60 to $1.70 and full-year guidance of between $5.11 and $5.21.

“We now anticipate that our underlying EPS for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 will be at or slightly below the low end of our range of $1.60 to $1.70,” Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley said in a Friday statement. “For the full year, we expect underlying EPS to be at or slightly below the low end of our range of $5.11 to $5.21."

The company said four previously undisclosed discrete items — listed as Brazil non-income-tax contingencies; Brazil employment-claim contingencies; China store lease expenses; and Sam's Club U.S. staff restructuring and a club closure — would cut quarterly earnings per share an estimated 15 cents.

Wal-Mart plans to issue its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2014 earnings results, plus its projections for fiscal 2015, at 7 a.m. Feb. 20.