Walmart Stock Gains Slightly After Q2 Earnings Beat

Walmart Stock

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) continues to show robust gains in quarterly sales, drawing in cost-conscious consumers seeking bargains in a challenging economic landscape characterized by soaring prices. 

The retail giant, renowned for its wallet-friendly prices, bolstered its annual forecasts on Thursday following second-quarter results that surpassed expectations. This news nudged Walmart stock slightly higher at the market opening.

Being among the initial wave of major retailers to disclose their performance for the three months ending in July, Walmart’s report holds substantial significance as a gauge of consumer spending due to its vast scale and diverse customer base. The outcomes from this budget-oriented establishment stand in stark contrast to numerous competitors grappling with faltering sales under the weight of inflation. This divergence sheds light on the present financial conditions of a considerable portion of U.S. consumers.

The synergy of a robust job market, increasing wages, and pockets of abated inflation has propelled spending among Americans. However, the surge in energy costs, resumption of student loan payments deferred during the pandemic, and climbing interest rates collectively contribute to mounting economic strain felt by millions. Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, shared with analysts on Thursday that the company has benefited from this scenario. Given that over half of Walmart’s annual sales derive from its grocery offerings, recent quarters also indicate an influx of higher-income shoppers, while long-standing customers are transitioning to more economical store-brand items over national labels. Notably, customers are gravitating towards essential grocery items and kitchen tools such as hand blenders and stand mixers as they prepare meals at home.

McMillon noted, “When you put all this together, we see families that are discerning about what they’re spending on. They’re setting priorities and spending on the things they care most about. We saw that during the first half. We see people across income cohorts come to us more frequently looking to save money on everyday needs.”

Unlike other retailers, Walmart boasts a distinctive product mix that insulates it from sales decline as consumers tighten their discretionary spending on items like accessories and appliances. In contrast, Target reported its first quarterly sales dip in six years, attributed to both cautious expenditure and backlash in specific regions against its Pride-themed merchandise.

Meanwhile, Home Depot, the leading home improvement retailer in the nation, declared a sustained sales decrease, primarily in significant-ticket purchases such as appliances, which frequently necessitate financing. This predicament has intensified as interest rates surged within the past year, exacerbating the financial burden on consumers relying on credit cards.

Recent data indicated increased consumer spending, yet the rise in interest rates is dampening spending primarily reliant on credit, encompassing sectors like real estate, automobiles, and furniture.

To cater to its most economically challenged customers, Walmart halved the price of its online subscription service for government assistance beneficiaries. The Walmart+ service, originally priced at $98 annually, will now cost $49 per year or $6.47 per month for individuals on Medicaid, Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as food stamps), or similar programs. This initiative aims to retain such customers and is part of Walmart’s broader strategy to compete with Amazon Prime by enhancing its subscription benefits.

Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, reported earnings of $7.89 billion, equivalent to $2.92 per share, for the quarter ending on July 31. Adjusted results stood at $1.84 per share, surpassing Wall Street estimates by 13 cents, as per an industry analyst survey by FactSet. This marks an increase from the previous year’s quarterly profit of $5.15 billion.

Sales experienced a nearly 6% rise, reaching $161.63 billion, marginally surpassing expectations.

Comparable store sales, encompassing both brick-and-mortar and online establishments over the last year, exhibited a 6.4% increase in Walmart’s U.S. division. This growth slightly trailed behind the 7.4% from the quarter ending in April and the 8.3% from the fourth quarter. Simultaneously, global online sales surged by 24%, slightly down from the previous reporting period.

Walmart projects a 3% rise in sales and anticipates earnings per share between $1.45 and $1.50 for the ongoing quarter. For the entire year, they now anticipate sales growth ranging from 4% to 4.5%, with projected earnings per share between $6.36 and $6.46. This contrasts with the previous quarter’s projection of a 3.5% sales increase and earnings per share ranging from $6.10 to $6.20 for the year.

Analysts had initially forecasted $1.49 per share for the current quarter and $6.30 per share for the full year, according to FactSet data.

Walmart Stock

Walmart stock has already risen by nearly 10% in the year, while the S&P 500 has gained 15%.

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About the author: Stephanie Bedard-Chateauneuf has over six years of experience writing financial content for various websites. Over the years, Stephanie has covered various industries, with a primary focus on tech stocks, consumer stocks, health stocks, and personal finance. This stock lover likes to invest for the long-term. Stephanie has an MBA in finance.