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Walmart's home dept scores 1st comp gain since '09

Brian Carroll, Retail Editor 4 -- Home Textiles Today, February 21, 2012

Bentonville, Ark. - The home department at Walmart's U.S. stores generated positive same-store sales in the low single digits during the fourth quarter - the first time home has recorded a positive quarterly comp in 2 ½ years, according to the company.

"We've worked diligently to focus on the basics and improve assortment through add-backs and item merchandising," Walmart U.S. president and ceo Bill Simon said of the performance. "Home management and food preparation were stand-out categories in our home area, and outdoor living performed better than expected during the warmer weather."

Heavy promotions took a toll on overall margin for the parent corporation, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. took an almost 15% net income hit in the fourth quarter. Net income for the quarter ended Jan. 31 fell to $5.16 billion, or $1.50 per share, compared to $6.05 billion, or $1.70 a share, in the year-ago period.

Sales for the total company fared better, rising 5.8% to $122.3 billion. By segment, Walmart U.S. posted a 2.4% net sales increase to $72.8 billion, and Sam's Club reported a 6.8% net sales gain to $14.0 billion. Total sales got a boost from the acquisitions of the Netto stores in the U.K. and Massmart in South Africa.

Total company comps, excluding gasoline sales increased 2.1%. Comps were up 1.5% for Walmart U.S. and 5.4% for Sam's Club.

Earnings per share for the fiscal year rose 8.6% to $4.54. Sales were up 5.9% to $443.9 billion.

Sales for Walmart U.S. rose 1.5% to $264.21 billion. Sam's Club sales were up 8.8% to $53.8 billion. Comps for the year, without fuel impact, were up 0.9% for the total company, 0.2% for Walmart U.S. and 5.1% for Sam's Club.

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