Why Walmart Is Winning Again

The Walmart machine is in full swing.

The retail giant today reported another round of blockbuster earnings — this time during the all-important holiday period — with its fourth-quarter profits up nearly 70 percent to $3.69 billion, or $1.27 per diluted share. On adjusted basis, profits were $1.42 per share — handily topping the $1.33 per share Wall Street had expected.

The firm — which took advantage of the white space left in the market after the Toys R Us demise — leveraged a series of new and existing omnichannel initiatives during the holidays, including the expansion of its grocery pickup service. It also boosted its online offerings — launching Lord & Taylor on Walmart.com — as well as adding Nike and Apple shops to owned site Jet.com.

As a result, comparable sales for its U.S. stores climbed 4.2 percent, while e-commerce sales soared 43 percent in the region. (E-commerce sales are for Walmart.com.)

Overall, Walmart’s total Q4 revenues advanced 2.5 percent to $1.39 billion, roughly in line with analysts’ bets.

“We had a good year, and I want to thank our associates for their great work and openness to change. They continue to inspire us as we strive to serve our customers better every day,” said president and CEO Doug McMillon. “Progress on initiatives to accelerate growth, along with a favorable economic environment, helped us deliver strong comp sales and gain market share. We’re excited about the work we’re doing to reach customers in a more digitally connected way.”

For the full year, Walmart’s sales increased 2.8 percent to $514.4 million, with e-commerce revenues up 40 percent. Earnings per share were $2.26 on a reported basis and $4.49 excluding charges and other items.

The company reiterated its full-year guidance and continues to expect consolidated sales growth of 3 percent, an e-commerce revenue gain of 35 percent and EPS advances in the low- to mid-single-digit percentage range.

While Walmart had worried investors during a stretch of slowing sales growth — at the height of Amazon’s digital disruption — the firm has since moved aggressively to improve its omnichannel strategy, adding buy online, pick up in-store; faster delivery; and new in-store experiences (particularly during the holidays).

At market open, shares for Walmart were up 3.3 percent to $103.29.

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