• Cecile Corral

Wal-Mart Hopeful on Home

Wal-Mart hinted of good things soon to come for the home area as the company "works hard on improvements," said Wal-Mart Stores U.S. president and ceo Eduardo Castro-Wright during the retailer's fourth-quarter and year-end earnings call.

"You will hear more from us on this category later in the first quarter," Castro-Wright added. He offered no further details, but could have been referring to the scheduled spring launch of the Canopy, a casual private label brand covering bedding, bath, table linens, rugs, dinnerware, furniture and lighting.

The U.S. division pushed through a remodel of its home area last year during the third quarter, and thus far it "has shown great promise," he said. The company is expanding that presentation to additional units in 2008.

"Our goal is to see improved sales in the home category by the second half of fiscal 2009," Castro-Wright remarked, referring to the current year.

For the recently completed quarter, Wal-Mart posted positive results. Earnings per share rose 7.0% to $1.04 — excluding one-time items — two cents ahead of analysts' estimates. The company took a 2 cent charge in after-tax expenses, for a diluted EPS of $1.02.

Sales for the quarter ended Jan. 31 rose 8.3% to $106 billion — topping $100 billion for the first time in a single quarter. Comps, excluding fuel, rose 1.7%.

Wal-Mart's U.S. stores reported a 5% sales increase to $67.4 billion, and Sam's Club sales climbed 6.3% to $11.8 billion. International revenues jumped 8.4% to $27.0 billion. One less than stellar result: Sam's Club singled out home furnishings-related items as "soft" sellers over the fourth quarter.

After apologizing for his slightly gruff voice incurred from the flu, Wal-Mart president and ceo Lee Scott boasted "another record year" for Wal-Mart. For the full year, the retailer posted an 8.6% increase in total net sales to $375 billion for fiscal 2008.

The company added about $30 billion in sales, Scott noted, saying, "$30 billion is equivalent to a Fortune 75 business."

Diluted earnings per share for the year were $3.13, up 15.5%.

Cecile CorralCecile Corral | Senior Product Editor, Home & Textiles Today

Cecile B. Corral has been a product editor with Home Textiles Today since late 2000. She covers the area and accent rug, kitchen textiles, table linens, beach towels, decorative bath and decorative pillow categories, as well as some retail subjects.

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