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Wal-Mart Plans $100 Billion Fourth Quarter

"We're seeing improvements in both home and apparel, and in fact I believe we will continue to see improvements in both of these categories," said Lee Scott, president and ceo of Wal-Mart on the retailer's third-quarter earnings call.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, evp, president and ceo, Wal-Mart Stores U.S. division, said Wal-Mart is "driving price leadership and strengthening our brands" in the home product categories and has "made a lot of progress this year in developing our new home pad," which the company has tested successfully in 15 markets already.

The favorable new home department results will translate into further rollouts of this revamped layout next fiscal year, he said.

On that same note but on a wider scope, Wal-Mart "will continue to invest in our remodel and special projects stores," Castro-Wright continued. The existing remodeled stores outperformed other stores by 100 to 300 basis points for the quarter, he said.

Sam's Club could not boast the same success in home, which divisional evp, president and ceo Douglas McMillon said has room to improve "beyond any external pressures."

Operating income of $4.0 billion for the third quarter at Wal-Mart Stores was up 11.1% over the year-ago income of $3.6 billion; at Sam's the rise was 6.2% to $362 million, while the international division sum of $1.1 billion marked a rise of 8.6%.

Earnings per share, companywide, for continuing operations was $0.70, up 12.9% from $0.62 for the third quarter of 2006. Sales of $90.9 billion were up 8.8% over the same period one year ago.

Looking ahead, Wal-Mart has a 12-digit dollar goal for sales in the fourth quarter. During the introduction on the pre-recorded quarterly call, Scott appeared to set aside his script for a moment to comment to evp and cfo Thomas Schoewe the "interesting" notion that Wal-Mart could hit the $100 billion mark during the fourth quarter.

"It's interesting, Tom Schoewe, that if you look at plans for the fourth quarter at Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated we would expect to do at least $100 billion, our first $100 billion quarter — certainly a record for Wal-Mart," Scott said.

Also on the milestone list this fourth quarter: the opening last week of Wal-Mart International's 3,000th unit outside the United States, which Scott said will mark "a significant achievement for our company and associates around the world."

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Qtr. 10/31 ($millions) 2007 2006 % change
a.Sales as shown includes: for 3Q 2007, $90.880 billion sales and $1.069 billion membership and other income; for 3Q 2006, $83.543 billion sales and $924 million membership and other income.
b. Earnings per share from continuing operations for 3Q 2007 were impacted positively $0.01 per share due to the recognition of $46.5 million in after tax gains from the sale of certain real estate properties.
c. SG&A includes operating, selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net sales.
d. Sales as shown includes: for 2007, $268.257 billion sales and $3.114 billion membership and other income; for 2006, $246.902 billion sales and $2.670 billion membership and other income.shares from 522.7 million last year.
Sales $91,949a $84,467a 8.9%
Oper. Income (EBIT) 4,972 4,465 11.4
Net income 2,857 2,647 7.9
Per share (diluted) 0.70b 0.63 11.1
Average gross margin 23.8% 23.7% --
SG&A expenses 19.4%c 19.4%c --
Nine months
Sales $271,371d $249,572d 8.7%
Oper. Income (EBIT) 15,115 14,065 7.5
Net income 8,635 7,345 17.6
Per share (diluted) 2.11 1.76 19.9
Average gross margin 23.5% 23.6% --
SG&A expenses 19.0%c 19.0%c --

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