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Walmart tops estimates amid returning customers, strong grocery sales

Walmart’s third-quarter U.S. comparable sales rose 9.3%.

Walmart delivered strong third-quarter results that bode well for the company as it heads into the holiday season and raised its full-year earnings guidance for the third consecutive quarter.

The retail giant sounded a confident note as it deals with supply chain disruption, labor shortages and inflation. Similar to other big retailers such as Home Depot and Target, Walmart has been chartering its own ships to move goods across the globe. The company that its U.S. inventory was up 11.5% ahead of the holiday season.

“We have the people, the products and the prices to deliver a great holiday season for our customers and members,” stated Doug McMillion, president and CEO, Walmart.

“The holiday season is here and we are ready,”  McMillon said on the company's earnings call.

 McMillon also said the the chain is dealing with inflation.

"Fighting inflation is in our DNA,” he told analysts. "Walmart has served customers across economic cycles for more than 50 years."

Walmart's net income totaled $3.11 billion, or $1.11 per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 29, down from $5.14 billion, or $1.80 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.45 beat analysts’ expectations of $1.40.

Total revenue rose 4.3% to $140.53 billion from $134.71 billion last year, topping estimates of $135.43 billion.

Walmart’s U.S. comparable sales (excluding fuel) grew 9.2%, ahead of estimates for 6.4%, and were up 15.6% on a two-year stack. Comp transactions in the quarter increased 5.7%. E-commerce sales in the U.S. rose 8% year-over-year, and rose 87% on a two-year basis. 

Grocery sales rose 10% to $3.6 billion, the strongest growth in six quarters, amid low to mid single-digit inflation. 

"We’re pleased with the strong momentum in the grocery business, as our strong price positioning and omni offerings resonate with customers,” Biggs said on the call with analysts.

At Sam’s Club, comp sales increased 13.9%, and 25% on a two-year stack. eCommerce sales grew 32%. Membership income increased 11.3%, the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth.

“Our momentum continues with strong sales and profit growth globally,” stated Doug McMillion, president and CEO, Walmart. “Our omnichannel focus is pushing digital penetration to record levels. We gained market shared in grocery in the U.S. and more customers and members are returning to our stores around the world.”

Walmart international sales fell 20.1% to $23.6 billion, impacted by divestitures.

For the full year, Walmart expects earnings per share of $5.00 and adjusted earnings per share of $6.40, up from its previous guidance of $6.20 to $6.35. The company expects U.S. comp sales growth of 6%. Analysts had been looking for earnings per share of $6.34 and U.S. comp growth of 0.8%.

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