For the second quarter in a row, web sales at Walmart Inc., No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000, grew 37.0%, the company reported. That increase includes strong growth in groceries sold online, the company reported.
For its fiscal second quarter ended July 26, Walmart reported total revenue of $130.38 billion, up 1.8% from the $128.03 billion reported for the comparable period a year earlier. Profit for the period were $3.61 billion, compared with a net loss of $861.0 million a year earlier. The company calls online grocery “a meaningful contributor to ecommerce growth,” but it did not break out specific numbers.
Walmart U.S. ended the quarter with more than 2,700 grocery pickup locations and more than 1,100 delivery locations in the United States.
In May, Walmart rolled out a next-day delivery service—countering a move by Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) to deliver shipments to Amazon.com Inc. Prime loyalty program members in one day as opposed to two. In June, Walmart expanded its next-day delivery service to more than a dozen new states.
Comparable store sales, excluding fuel for Walmart’s U.S. stores, rose 2.8% in the period, beating analysts’ estimates. Walmart says it is gaining market share in key categories, including food, consumables, health and wellness, and toys.
The results were “very solid,” said Chuck Grom, an analyst at Gordon Haskett Research Advisors. The same-store sales and higher guidance “reinforced our view that Walmart is a good investment on a standalone basis, but also offers a safe haven today amid a significant amount of market, consumer and retail uncertainty.”
The retailer now says it expects comparable sales to grow at the higher end of its previous 2.5% to 3.0% estimate. Also, Walmart says earnings per share could now either increase or decrease slightly this year. Earlier, it expected a low single-digit decline when including the impact of its deal to buy a controlling stake in India’s Flipkart.
Same-day delivery ahead of schedule
Walmart has said it plans to extend same-day delivery to about three-quarters of the U.S. population by the end of the year. In his statement Thursday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer has already reached that goal.
“Customers are responding well, and we’re improving our economics by having inventory close to the customer which helps us reduce split shipments and the use of air freight,” McMillon said in a statement.
Analysts and news reports have said Walmart’s online operation is losing at least $1 billion per year as the company invests in and builds out the operation. A July 8 note from Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman says that Walmart’s online losses in the United States could rise to about $1.7 billion this year, up from $1.4 billion in 2018.
In his statement, McMillon did not address those estimates. But he offered assurances that Walmart’s web business is moving in the right direction. “We’re making progress to improve the fundamentals of our traditional ecommerce business. … We’re lowering our variable costs per unit, improving gross margin and increasing the number of monthly active users,” he said in a statement.
For the six months ended July 26, total revenue was $254.30 billion, up 1.4% from $250.72 billion a year earlier. Earnings for the period were $7.45 billion, up from $1.27 billion a year earlier. Last year’s results were affected by a $4.8 billion pre-tax loss related to the sale of a majority stake in Walmart Brazil and other factors.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.Favorite