Walmart holiday quarter sales top estimates, shares rise

FILE PHOTO: Walmart’s logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Walmart Inc reported an estimate-beating jump in holiday quarter comparable sales on Tuesday as a strong economy boosted consumer spending and fueled more e-commerce purchases, sending its shares up nearly 4 percent in premarket trade.

Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 4.2 percent, excluding fuel, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 boosted by an early release of food stamps due to the recent U.S. government shutdown. The sales gain exceeded analysts’ expectations of 2.96 percent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.41 per share, beating expectations of $1.33 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Online sales grew 43 percent during the quarter, in line with the previous quarter’s rise, helped by the expansion of its online grocery pickup and delivery services and a broader assortment on its website.

Walmart repeated its forecast that fiscal year 2020 earnings per share would decline in the low-single-digit percentage range, compared with last year. But excluding the acquisition of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, it sees an increase in the low- to mid-single-digit percentage range.

Walmart has recorded 18 quarters, or over four straight years of U.S. growth, unmatched by any other retailer.

The stock rose to $103.90, up nearly 4 percent.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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