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Wal-Mart leverages operating expenses for Q1
May '12
Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported financial results for the quarter ended April 30, 2012. Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 were $112.3 billion, an increase of 8.6 percent from $103.4 billion in the first quarter last year. Net sales for this quarter included a negative currency exchange rate impact of approximately $800 million.

Membership and other income increased 3.2 percent, excluding $51 million from the sale of an investment owned by Walmart Chile during the prior year's quarter.

Income from continuing operations attributable to Walmart for the quarter was $3.7 billion, up 9.2 percent from the first quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart (EPS) for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 were $1.09. By comparison, last year's EPS were $0.98. The company had several pre-tax items in the first quarter of last year that netted to a $0.01 benefit to EPS.

“We are very pleased that Walmart delivered earnings and comparable sales above guidance for the first quarter. Despite a negative impact from currency, we grew sales and operating profit over last year,” said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and chief executive officer. “Our overall performance reflects the success of Walmart's business model: driving the productivity loop, leveraging expenses and investing in price leadership. We believe that the momentum throughout our business positions us very well for the rest of the year.”

“In a highly competitive retail environment, Walmart U.S. is increasing price separation across categories and driving increased traffic to both the grocery and general merchandise areas of our stores. That strategy was reflected in the 2.6 percent comp,” said Duke. “Customers count on us for one-stop shopping and our merchandising priorities are aligned with that in mind. Walmart U.S. also grew operating income faster than sales this quarter.

“Sam's Club is off to a great start this year, with continued strength in traffic and ticket,” Duke continued. “Membership engagement scores are at record highs, membership income is growing, and renewals and upgrades are strong.

“Walmart International delivered strong sales growth in the first quarter and operating income grew faster than sales, increasing more than 20 percent,” said Duke. “We are very focused on improving profitability and returns, and with greater transitions to everyday low price in more markets, we have stronger customer traffic, which contributed to net sales growth.”

“Powered by Walmart remains a competitive advantage,” said Duke. “We're sharing best practices on global business processes to improve inventory management and labor scheduling to maximize product availability on the shelf. Our ability to continually find ways to reduce expenses and improve associate productivity means we can pass on those savings to customers.”

Walmart ended the first quarter with strong free cash flow of $3.1 billion1, compared to a negative $415 million1 from the previous year. ROI for the trailing 12 months ended April 30, 2012 was 18.1 percent1, compared to 18.5 percent1 for the prior year. ROI was negatively impacted by capital expenditures and acquisition-related activities, partially offset by positive currency exchange rate fluctuations.

“We remain committed to returning value to shareholders,” said Charles Holley, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “In March, our board declared an annual dividend of $1.59 per share for this fiscal year, approximately a 9 percent increase over the previous year's per share dividend. We returned $2.9 billion to our shareholders during the first quarter through dividends and share repurchases.”

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