Wal-Mart comps slipped in 4Q

Retail Editor 3, February 22, 2011

Bentonville, Ark. - The home department at Walmart U.S. was a laggard during the fourth quarter, a period during which overall U.S. comps fell 1.8%.
The division's home comps were low single-digit negative, "though winter weather helped drive sales in snow removal and bedding," said Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and ceo, in the company's prerecorded call to review quarterly results. "Promotional and new items, as well as home management, floor care and dining did well for the holidays. Home décor continues to face headwinds,"
Corporate president and ceo Mike Duke attributed many of the fourth quarter problems to merchandise assortment and presentation issues that "contributed to customer traffic declines as well as some of the issues related to the remodeling program." Average ticket rose slightly.
Some of the pricing and merchandising issues in Walmart US "ran deeper than we initially expected, and they require a response that will take time to see results," he said.
The company's consolidated operating income for the fourth quarter, ended Jan. 28, was $8.0 billion, up 7.3% from last year.
Net sales increased 2.5% to $115.6 billion from $112.8 billion last year. These results included a currency exchange rate benefit of $664 million.
For the full fiscal year, Wal-Mart Stores' consolidated operating income rose 6.4% to $25.5 billion and earnings per share jumped 12.1% to $4.18.
The company expects first quarter EPS between 91 and 96 cents, which compares to last year's EPS of 87 cents.
Guidance for the new fiscal year calls for EPS between $4.35 and $4.50.



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