What to watch in Wal-Mart earnings report
Wal-Mart (WMT) is scheduled to report results of its third quarter before the market open on Thursday, November 16, with a conference call scheduled for 7:00 am EDT.
What to watch for:
Wal-Mart is expected to update its guidance for the fiscal year. Wal-Mart previously forecast Q3 EPS of 90c-98c and comp sales for Walmart U.S. up 1.5%-2% excluding fuel and Sam’s Club comps excluding fuel up 1%-1.5%.
The company raised the low end of its FY18 adjusted EPS view to $4.30-$4.40 from $4.20-$4.40 and backed this guidance at its investor day.
Also at the investor day event, Wal-Mart forecast FY19 EPS to be up approximately 5% vs. FY18 adjusted EPS, with consolidated net sales growing at or above 3%. Baird analyst Peter Benedict expects a solid quarter with good comps and traffic momentum and a guide to earnings growth.
Retailers like Wal-Mart have been hurt by an increase in online shopping on sites like Amazon (AMZN) rather than at brick-and-mortar stores.
According to reports, Wal-Mart has raised prices for some food and household items on its U.S. website to be higher than prices for the same products sold in-store in an effort to increase profits and drive store traffic.
Wal-Mart, which has previously tried to keep online prices equal to in-store prices, is testing a new system, which has caused higher web prices for products that would otherwise be unprofitable to ship.
Wal-Mart recently sent a recreational vehicle to the University of Pennsylvania as part of a roughly dozen college recruitment tour to break into Ivy League recruitment, Bloomberg reported. The move comes after CEO Doug McMillon told investors Wal-Mart would “look even more like a tech company” to respond to competition from Amazon.
Recently, rival eBay (EBAY) said it will match rivals’ prices on many top Black Friday deals through Cyber Monday. Lidl is gaining little traction after expanding in the U.S. with grocers Wal-Mart and Kroger (KR) recovering most of the market share they lost when the German discounter opened its first nine U.S. stores in June, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.
In October, Wal-Mart said it expects to have grocery pickup in over 2,000 stores by the end of 2018 and noted that its Sam’s Club fresh food efforts are “really encouraging.”
3. OTHER INITIATIVES:
Wal-Mart is looking to grow its presence in the online fashion market, recently buying Bonobos, ShoeBuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth.
Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon said on the Q2 earnings call that the retailer is testing associate delivery of online orders in “a few” stores and plans to have approximately 100 automated pickup towers in stores across the U.S. by the end of the year, “where customers can pick up their orders within a matter of minutes.”
He also noted that Wal-Mart has tests going on with “digital endless aisle shopping, robotics and image analytics to scan aisles for outs and we’re using machine learning to assist our merchants with pricing.”
More recently, Walmart.com and Lord & Taylor said that Lord & Taylor will launch a flagship store on Walmart.com in Spring 2018.
4. HOLIDAY SEASON:
Wal-Mart is giving employees the opportunity to work extra hours during the holiday season rather than hire temporary seasonal workers.
In addition, the retailer said it will offer more than 2M items for free two-day shipping without a membership fee on orders over $35.
Also, Wal-Mart announced plans to bring back its Holiday Helpers, associates dedicated to assisting customers, and will increase the number of them in stores to help customers.
Wal-Mart will also host more than 20,000 holiday parties at its Supercenters.
WMT last traded at $90.58.
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