• Jennifer Marks

Wal-Mart Pledges to Win in Every Business'

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. broke through the $400 billion sales mark for the year, despite posting a profit decline in the fourth quarter.

In recorded remarks released in mid-February, execs asserted that the company is well positioned to continue gaining share as its markets work through the global recession.

"We will push ourselves and play offense where appropriate," said Mike Duke, who took the reins as corporate president and ceo four weeks ago. "And we will win in every business that we operate around the world."

As for Walmart US: "We're going to do all the right things to continue our momentum and to widen the gap between the competition and us," he said.

In the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, Walmart US stores grew sales by 6.0% to $71.5 billion, recording comps of 2.8% over the previous year's Q4 comps of 1.6%. Operating income rose 2.2% to $5.4 billion.

Food sales drove the business, but the chain also saw an uptick in parts of home, according to Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman.

"There is one major behavior change we've seen during the past year that has had a significant impact on our home business. Families are definitely eating more often at home. While we expect this to have a positive impact on grocery, we also have seen increased comps in home categories for cooking, dining and entertaining at home," he said.

Sam's Club sales for the fourth quarter were flat at approximately $11.8 billion, with comps up 2.5%. Operating income fell 3.8% to $427 million.

Holiday sales were soft even though traffic was positive every month during the quarter. Average ticket, excluding fuel, declined slightly.

Wal-Mart International saw sales slump 8.4% to $24.7 billion, with currency exchange rates impacting results. China (6.2%) and Brazil (up 7.3%) posted the strongest fourth-quarter sales.

Consolidated corporate sales for the fourth quarter rose 1.7% to approximately $108 billion. Comps rose 2.8% compared to a 1.7% bump in comps during the previous fiscal year. Profits fell 7.4% to $3.79 billion, or 96 cents per share.

For the year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. generated profit of $13.4 billion on total revenues of $405.6 billion (including retail sales of $401.2 billion). Comps rose 3.5%, including fuel. Without fuel, comp rose 0.2%.

The company expects earnings per share for the first quarter of 72 to 77 cents. For the full year, Wal-Mart expects to generate EPS of $3.45 to $3.60.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

QTR. 1/31 (MILLIONS) 2009 2008 %CHANGE
a. Sales. Does not include revenues from membership and other income.
Sales $107,996a $106,208a 1.7
Oper. Income (EBIT) 6,377 6,876 (7.3)
Net income 3,792 4,096 (7.4)
Per share (diluted) 0.96 1.02 (5.8)
Average gross profit 23.5% 23.5%
SG&A expenses 18.6% 18.1%
Sales $401,244a $374,307a 7.2
Oper. Income (EBIT) 22,798 21,952 3.9
Net income 13,400 12,731 5.3
Per share (diluted) 3.39 3.13 8.3
Average gross profit 23.7% 23.5%
SG&A expenses 19.1% 18.7%

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