Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE: WMT) fell nearly 4 percent in early trade after the world’s largest retailer a seventh straight quarterly decline in U.S. comparable-store sales, saying some of the pricing and merchandising issues ran deeper than it initially expected.
The company cited the majority of the Walmart U.S. comparable store decline to traffic. Total U.S. comparable-store sales, without fuel, fell 1.1 percent, compared with a 1.6 percent fall last year. Walmart U.S comparable store sales fell 1.8 percent.
Following the announcement, shares of Wal-Mart fell 3.65 percent to $53.36 at 10:08 am EST on Tuesday on the NYSE.
Wal-Mart is considered a key barometer of consumer spending that accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. Even though the consumer spending environment remains relatively fragile, retailers like Wal-Mart continue to attract customers and improve earnings through various promotional activities.
We are disappointed by Walmart U.S. fourth quarter sales” said Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores. “Some of the pricing and merchandising issues in Walmart ran deeper than we initially expected, and they require a response that will take time to see results.”
For the quarter ended Jan. 28, net income was $6.06 billion or $1.70 a share, up from $4.8 billion or $1.25 a share a year-ago. Underlying earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart were $1.343, exceeding consensus estimates and company guidance.
Net sales rose 2.5 percent to $115.6 billion, as International sales grew 9 percent to $31.4 billion.
For the first quarter, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company expects earnings from continuing operations between $0.91 and $0.96 a share, while analysts expect 96 cents a share.
The company expects earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart for fiscal 2012 in the range of $4.35 to $4.50, while analysts expect $4.44. Wal-Mart said it continues to expect net sales for fiscal 2012 to grow between four and six percent.