Walmart crushed expectations, and shares are exploding

Reuters/Jeff Mitchell

Walmart reported first-quarter profits and sales Thursday that were better than expected, unlike several department stores that have struggled to gain ground.

America’s largest retailer earned $0.98 in adjusted earnings per share, beating the forecast for $0.88, according to Bloomberg.

Its revenues totaled $115.9 billion, beating expectations of $113.3 billion.

Walmart shares rose by as much as 7% in early trading, the biggest gain since October 2008 according to CNBC. They’ve gained 11% this year.

Comparable-store sales, or sales at Walmarts in the US open for at least one year, rose 1%.

“We are pleased to see the US comp result, strong performance outside the US, membership trends in Sam’s Club, and EPS results versus guidance,” CEO Doug McMillon said in the earnings statement.

“In addition, we are focused on building the e-commerce capabilities we need to drive growth to a higher level and deliver the seamless shopping experience for customers they desire.”

That’s an important move to make. After other retailers reported weaker-than-expected results last week, it became clear that their online strategies are not competing effectively with the likes of Amazon, as more consumers opt to shop remotely.

After last week’s disappointing retail earnings from the likes of Macy’s and Nordstrom, there were some concerns about whether consumer spending was slowing down.

But the strong retail sales report at the end of the week showed that the consumer was actually getting stronger. Some analysts also noted that public companies account for only a fraction of total spending.

Walmart said its e-commerce sales rose 7% and gross merchandise volume, the dollar value of all transactions, increased 7.5% on a constant-currency basis, yet the company said this was “not as strong” as it had hoped.

Grocery sales fell at Walmart stores because of food deflation, the company said. But that was balanced out a bit by stronger traffic to stores.