Wal-Mart earnings dip but sales rise at USA stores

They expect $0.96 EPS, down 2.08% or $0.02 from last year's $0.98 per share. Finally, US Bancorp DE boosted its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 1.2% in the third quarter.

Bridges Investment Counsel Inc. reduced its position in Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) by 5.5% during the first quarter, according to its most recent filing with the SEC.

The world's largest retailer said Thursday that sales at established stores rose for the eleventh straight quarter, and customer traffic rose for the tenth quarter in a row. That's a rare bright spot in a largely gloomy retail environment in which retailers like Macy's and Target saw declines in comparable sales.

E-Commerce delivered big: E-commerce actually accounted for more than half (0.8 points) of Walmart U.S. comp-store growth as sales soared 63%, more than half from organic growth of Walmart.com rather than acquisition of Jet.com or smaller deals.

"This is extraordinary growth, and we're pleased with the traction we're generating across our e-commerce offerings", said Brett Biggs, Walmart's executive vice president and chief financial officer. It has retooled how it operates online and accelerated that shift with its acquisitions. It generated $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and returned $3.7 billion capital to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks.

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The company is still looking for startups to buy. This included online grocery, as well as, Jet.com that was acquired in the third quarter.

Wal-Mart had lowered its bar to $35 from $50 earlier this year and scrapped its program called SavingsPass that offered free shipping but had an annual fee.

McMillon emphasized, "The acquisitions have received a lot of attention but our plan in e-commerce is not to buy our way to success". The question now, they said, is whether the growth can continue.

But Wal-Mart is also trying to improve its physical stores. For Amazon's non-Prime members, the shipping time is five to eight days. Growth in the business has been picking up after Wal-Mart said in October it would slow down new store openings to focus on expanding its e-commerce business.

And it underscores Wal-Mart's efforts to narrow the gap between itself and online leader Amazon, and widen the distance between itself and other competitors. The company has invested $2.7 billion in higher wages and training for workers to decrease turnover and make the shopping experience more desirable. Comparable store sales were down 9 percent, hurt by the exit in swim and apparel at Victoria's Secret.

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The company has mean EPS estimate of 0.97 reported by 28 number of analyst for the quarter ending May 18, 2017. Revenues were up 1.4% at $117.5bn. Analysts forecast adjusted earnings per share of $1.07.

While growing online sales and rising profits pushed shares up more than 8 percent before the opening bell Wednesday, CEO Brian Cornell still needs to find a way to thrive in the face of intense pressure Amazon.com and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

In related news, major shareholder Jim C. Walton sold 3,000,000 shares of the business's stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 16th.

Elements of the story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research.

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