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    Walmart Posts Modest Q4 Net Sales Increase

    Prez/CEO cites comp-sales improvement as ‘a key priority’

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported net sales for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 31 of $128.8 billion, a 1.4 percent increase from last year. On a constant-currency basis, net sales would have risen 2.8 percent to $130.6 billion, the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer pointed out. Membership and other income for the quarter grew 12.7 percent versus last year, while total revenue increased $1.9 billion, or 1.5 percent to $129.7 billion, over last year.

    Consolidated net income attributable to Walmart was $4.4 billion, a 21 percent plunge, however, and diluted earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart were $1.34, 19.8 percent below the year-ago period’s $1.67.

    Consolidated net sales for the year were $473.1 billion, a 1.6 percent rise from fiscal year 2013. Membership and other income was $3.2 billion, a 5.6 percent increase from the prior year, and total revenue was $476.3 billion, having grown by 1.6 percent, or $7.6 billion.

    Consolidated net income attributable to Walmart for the year was $16 billion, a 5.7 percent decline, while diluted earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart were $4.85, 3.2 percent below the year-ago period’s $5.041.

    Further, among other recent developments, Walmart noted the announced closure of a total of 54 underperforming stores in Brazil and China, and Sam’s Club’s implementation of a new in-club leadership and staff structure “to better align U.S. club teams with the sales volume of each club.”

    Growing Globally and at Home

    Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said: “Our company grew net sales this year to reach more than $473 billion. Global e-commerce sales, including acquisitions, surpassed the $10 billion mark, a 30 percent increase over last year. We will continue to grow our global business by focusing on customers and serving them how they want to be served.”

    Added McMillon: “Comp-sales improvement is a key priority, and we’ll focus on being even stronger item and category merchants, delivering value and improving our service levels. We’ll remain focused on our expense structure, and innovate to improve productivity and aid our ability to deliver everyday low prices. Our EDLP approach earns trust with customers and helps us keep our cost structure low.”

    He also pledged that the company would invest “aggressively” in e-commerce, and boost its small-store count  in the United States “to deliver value and convenience.”

    Comparable-store Sales

    During the 14-week period, Walmart U.S. comp traffic dipped 1.7 percent, while average ticket edged up 1.3 percent. E-commerce sales positively affected comp sales by about 0.3 percent for the 14-week period.

    In the fourth quarter period, excluding fuel, Sam’s Club comp traffic was up 1.2 percent, while ticket was down 1.3 percent, and e-commerce sales positively affected comp sales by about 0.4 percent.

    “For fiscal year 2015, the Walmart U.S. team is focusing on growth and returning to positive comps,” said Bill Simon, the division’s president and CEO. “To get there, we will drive additional improvements in price investment and merchandise, test our market ecosystem and pilot our tethering concept.

    “Comp sales were down in the first two weeks of February due to continued severe winter storms,” continued Simon. “At the height of the storm, we had more than 200 stores closed. We’re optimistic about the balance of the quarter and believe we will have a positive sales comp for the rest of the period.”

    For the 13-week period ending May 2, Walmart U.S. expects comps to be relatively flat. Last year, Walmart’s comp sales fell 1.4 percent for the 13-week period ended April 26, 2013.

    “The underlying health of the Sam’s Club business is sound,” noted Sam’s Club President and CEO Rosalind Brewer. “The restructuring efforts implemented are allowing us to be more agile, focusing on the growth opportunities within the club channel. The strategies we have in place will deliver value for our members, helping to grow the business and drive strong financial performance in fiscal year 2015.”

    Sam’s Club expects comps, excluding fuel, for the 13-week period ending May 2 to be relatively flat. Last year’s comps at the warehouse club chain, excluding fuel, rose 0.2 percent for the 13-week period ended April 26, 2013.

    Walmart operates 10,942 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites in 10 countries, employing more than 2 million associates worldwide.

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