Wal-Mart profits up 16 percent
May 17, 2004,
Helped by a continuing recovery at its Sam's Club unit and impressive gains in its international business, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's and the world's largest retailer, drove first-quarter profits up 16.4 percent, to $2.2 billion from $1.9 billion last year.
Helping to drive the earnings gain was continued steady improvement in the Sam's Club warehouse segment, where operating profits shot up 30.9 percent, to $267 million from $204 million last year. Profits from international operations grew even faster, soaring 46.6 percent, to $563 million from $384 million last year.
Underlining the growing importance and profitability of the international operation, Wal-Mart's far-flung and rapidly growing international store base now contributes 26 percent of the parent company's total profits, but only 19.4 percent of sales, making it a vastly more profitable enterprise than either the U.S. warehouse clubs or supercenters.
Average gross margin inched up 20 basis points, or two-tenths of a percentage point during the period, to 22.8 from 22.6 a year ago. But any margin expansion was offset by higher costs, which rose 30 basis points, or three-tenths of a percentage point, to 18.3 percent from 18 percent a year ago.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
|Qtr. 4/30 (x000)||2004||2003||% chg|
|Oper. income (EBIT)||2,925,000||2,584,000||13.2|
|Per share (diluted)||0.50||0.42||19.0|
|Average gross margin||22.8%||22.6%||—|
|a-First-quarter results include miscellaneous income of $680 million, up from $506 million last year; and a $42 million loss from the company's minority share in a joint venture, unchanged from a $42 million loss a year ago.|
First quarter segment results