Walmart Posts Surprising Results For Fourth Quarter

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) posted surprisingly strong results for its holiday quarter. For the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.41, ahead of analysts’ estimates of $1.33. Revenue for the quarter was $138.8 billion, surpassing forecasts of $138.76 billion.

Walmart reported that its U.S. sales increased 4.2 percent over the same time last year, up from a 2.6 percent rise during the same quarter a year ago. Analysts expected growth of 3.2 percent. The company pointed to a 43 percent rise in U.S. e-commerce sales as a driver for the results.

The strong e-commerce growth was helped by the company’s expansion of its grocery pickup and delivery businesses. Walmart’s grocery pickup service is currently available at more than 2,100 Walmart locations, while delivery is offered at nearly 800 locations. The company hopes to increase those numbers to 3,100 and 1,600, respectively, by the end of fiscal year 2020.

The company also broadened its assortment of products on throughout the latest fiscal year. Merchandise from its acquired brands and a high-end Lord & Taylor shop were added to the main website, along with a sports fan-focused Fanatics shop and a new Nursery section. It also expanded its free, two-day shipping service to cover many more items on its marketplace.

The company has spent a considerable amount of capital creating a new, more personalized website. The redesign made reordering favorites simpler and creating a grocery order easier. The Home section added 3D virtual shopping and a new section was added to showcase items that are popular in shoppers’ local area.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement, “We’re excited about the work we’re doing to reach customers in a more digitally-connected way. Our commitment to the customer is clear – we’ll be there when, where and how they want to shop and deliver new, convenient experiences that are uniquely Walmart.”