Reuters – Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, reported better-than-expected quarterly sales at established US stores on Thursday, boosted by hurricane-related purchases and soaring online sales, sending its shares up 3.5%.
The retailer has recorded more than three straight years of comparable sales growth, despite slow demand and a tough retail environment that has hurt brick-and-mortar rivals.
Excluding special items, earnings per share came to $1 in the third quarter ended October 31, exceeding the average analyst estimate of 97 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.
Sales at US stores open at least a year rose 2.7%, excluding fuel price fluctuations. That is stronger than market expectations for a rise of 1.7%, according to Consensus Metrix.
Online sales soared 50% during the quarter, exceeding growth rates in the industry, but slower than the previous quarter’s 60% rise. It added 80 basis points to the third-quarter comparable sales gain.
Wal-Mart also raised its full-year profit forecast. It now expects earnings per share of $4.38 to $4.46 for the fiscal year versus its previous outlook of $4.30 to $4.40.
On Wednesday, rival Target Corp’s holiday quarter profit forecast fell short of analysts’ expectations, sending its shares down 10%.
Wal-Mart’s operating income fell 6.9% to $4.76bn. Operating margins fell to 3.9% from 4.4% in the same period a year earlier due to continued investments in making its prices more competitive compared to rivals.