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Walmart crushes estimates with blowout holiday quarter

Walmart blew past expectations for its fourth quarter amid strong U.S. same-store sales growth and surging online sales, posting its best holiday quarter in years.

In one of the chain’s most closely watched metrics, Walmart’s same-store sales in the U.S. jumped 4.2% in the quarter, beating Street estimates.

Walmart reported net income for period ended Jan. 31 of $3.69 billion, or $1.27 per share, compared with $2.18 billion, or 73 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding one-time items, Walmart earned $1.41 per share, beating analysts’ expectations of $1.33 per share.

The discount giant’s revenue rose 1.9% to $138.8 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $138.7 billion. U.S. online sales rose 43%, which the retailer partly credited to the expansion of grocery pickup and delivery. The services are now available in more than 2,100 stores. By the end of fiscal 2020, Walmart expects to offer grocery pickup in 3,100 locations and delivery in 1,600 stores.

“Progress on initiatives to accelerate growth, along with a favorable economic environment, helped us deliver strong comp sales and gain market share, CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We're excited about the work we're doing to reach customers in a more digitally-connected way. Our commitment to the customer is clear — we'll be there when, where and how they want to shop and deliver new, convenient experiences that are uniquely Walmart.”

On its quarterly call with analysts, Walmart said it will spend the most money on store remodels, e-commerce initiatives and bulking up its supply chain in 2019.

For the full year, Walmart’s total revenue rose 2.8% to $514.4 billion. Walmart’s U.S. same-store sales increased 3.6%. The chain’s e-commerce sales increased 40%.

The company is maintaining its sales outlook, which includes a 2.5% to 3% increase in U.S. same store sales, for the current year. Net sales growth is predicted to be at least 3%, hurt by deconsolidation of Walmart's Brazil operations. The company raised its annual dividend — payable to shareholders on April 1 — by 2% to $2.12 per share, up from $2.08 a share.
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