Wal-Mart profit, earnings per share up slightly; U.S. sales flat

Wal-Mart on Thursday reported slight increases in net income and earnings per share in the second quarter as well as flat sales at U.S. stores open at least a year.

The world's largest retailer said diluted earnings per share attributable to Wal-Mart were $1.26, up 1.6 percent from $1.24 a year before. Earnings per share from continuing operations was $1.21, down 1.6 percent from $1.23 a year before.

Consolidated net income attributable to the retailer was up 0.6 percent from about $4.07 billion to nearly $4.1 billion, and consolidated net sales reached $119.3 billion. That was a 2.8 percent increase from $116.1 billion posted in the same period last year.

Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon called the earnings per share results "solid."

“As it relates to the positives from the quarter, I’m encouraged by the performance of our International business, our Neighborhood Market sales in the U.S. and by our e-commerce growth," he said in a statement. "As it relates to our challenges in the quarter, we wanted to see stronger comps in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, but both reported flat comp sales. Stronger sales in the U.S. businesses would’ve also helped our profit performance.”

Comparable-store figures, which measure sales at locations open for at least a year, were up 5.6 percent at the Neighborhood Market locations; international net sales increased 3.1 percent to $33.9 billion; and global e-commerce sales were up about 24 percent, Wal-Mart said.

The retailer on Thursday also lowered its financial guidance for expected full-year earnings per share to between $4.90 to $5.15, down from $5.10 to $5.45. Earnings per share in the third quarter are expected to be between $1.10 and $1.20.

McMillon said that the Bentonville-based retailer would look to improve "merchandising, pricing and store level service" in Wal-Mart Supercenters and will continue to invest in creating a "seamless experience" between the physical and online stores.

A prerecorded call on the second-quarter results will be available online or by calling (877) 523-5612 and using code 9256278.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

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