Walmart posts $5.49 billion quarterly profit

People shop for groceries at a Walmart retail store in Garfield, N.J., in this December 2023 file photo. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
People shop for groceries at a Walmart retail store in Garfield, N.J., in this December 2023 file photo. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)


Walmart Inc. had a big day on Tuesday when it reported strong fourth-quarter revenue growth and its planned $2.3 billion acquisition of TV manufacturer Vizio, both of which sent its stock price soaring when the markets opened.

The Bentonville-based retailer's revenue grew 5.7% over the same quarter last year to $173.4 billion.

Walmart and Vizio Holding Corp. said in a joint news release Tuesday that Vizio's SmartCast operating system, which lets viewers watch streaming content free with ads, will help Walmart's media business, Walmart Connect, reach a wider audience for Walmart and other advertisers.

Walmart's net income fell 12.4% to $5.5 billion, or $2.03 per share, for the quarter that ended Jan. 31, compared to net income of $6.3 billion, or $2.32 per share, in the same period last year.

The per-share earnings still handily beat analysts' average estimate of $1.64.

Walmart's shares reached an all-time high of $181.35 in mid-morning trading on Tuesday.

The company's shares closed Tuesday at $175.86, up $5.50, or 3.23%, on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded between $136.09 and $181.35 over the past year.

Doug McMillon, Walmart's president and chief executive officer, said in the earnings presentation that the company "delivered a great quarter, finishing off a strong year."

"We crossed $100 billion in e-commerce sales," McMillon said, "and drove share gains as our customer experience metrics improved, even during our highest volume days" leading up to the Christmas holidays, McMillon said.

Walmart's global e-commerce net sales grew 23%. They made up 18% of the company's net sales, led by the company's popular pickup and delivery service.

Steve Dennis, president and founder of SageBerry Consulting, said the most impressive thing about Walmart is that, as big a company as it is, "they're really staying on the offense, while other large retailers are pulling back."

Some examples he gave include growing its marketplace and upgrading stores to be more appealing to the higher-income shopper.

"They're so aggressive for such a large company," Dennis said. "They're keeping the foot on the accelerator."

Carol Spieckerman, retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, used some of the same metaphors as Dennis when she said that the "dizzying number of announcements, from the Vizio acquisition to its ongoing marketplace expansion, store openings and remodels prove that Walmart is clearly not just playing defense."

And with all these initiatives, Spieckerman said, Walmart has built a "synergistic platform of mutually supporting solutions and services."

Walmart's fourth-quarter results show that its efforts are gaining traction, she said.

And the planned acquisition of Vizio "plugs right into the plan," Spieckerman said, "accelerating Walmart's advertising aspirations and laying a foundation for content marketing innovation."

"Walmart is firing on all cylinders and cranking up the momentum that will make it an even more formidable player in the months to come," Spieckerman said.

Walmart's U.S. unit, by far the company's largest, posted net sales of $117.6 billion, up 3.4% from last year's fourth quarter.

Sales at stores open at least a year, also called same-store sales, rose 4%, compared to 8.3% a year ago, excluding fuel. Same-store sales are considered a key indicator of a retailer's health.

The unit's e-commerce sales grew 17%, led by strength in pickup and delivery.

Walmart International's net sales rose 13% in constant currency, to $31.2 billion from $27.6 billion. This growth was led by Flipkart, Walmart de Mexico and China.

The division's e-commerce sales increased 44%, led by marketplace and omnichannel sales. And its global advertising business jumped 75%, led by Flipkart and Walmart de Mexico.

At Sam's Club, Walmart's warehouse club division, net sales including fuel rose 2% to $21.9 billion. Same-store sales, excluding fuel, increased 3.1%, compared to last year's 12.2%.

Sam's Club's e-commerce sales rose 17%, led by delivery and curbside pickup.

For the fiscal year, the retailer's revenue grew 6% to $648 billion.

Its U.S. net sales increased 5% to $441.8 billion. International net sales climbed 13.5% to $114.6 billion.

Sam's Club's net sales rose 2.2% to $86.2 billion.

Walmart's 3:1 stock split, announced on Jan. 29, will be effective on Friday, with shares payable after the stock markets close to shareholders of record at the close of business on Thursday.

Shareholders will get two shares of common stock for each share they hold.

Walmart said the stock split is intended to make it easier for its employees to buy stock in the company. More than 400,000 employees participate in the company's Associate Stock Purchase plan, which lets them buy stock through payroll deductions and provides a 15% company match on the first $1,800 each year.

The company expects the stock split will increase the number of shares of Walmart's outstanding common stock from about 2.7 billion shares to about 8.1 billion.

Walmart also said on Tuesday that it's raising its annual dividend by 9% to 83 cents per share -- its largest increase in more than 10 years. The dividend will be paid in four quarterly installments throughout the current fiscal year.

A replay and transcript of Tuesday's presentation and conference call with investors are available at Walmart's corporate website at http://corporate.walmart.com/news/events and selecting the Fourth Quarter Earnings Release event.


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