Walmart’s Q4 2018 Results – Comments

I found various notable items in Walmart’s Q4 2018 management call transcript (pdf) dated February 20, 2018.  (as well, there is Walmart’s press release of the Q4 results (pdf) and related presentation materials)

I view Walmart’s results and comments as particularly noteworthy given their retail prominence and focus on low prices.  I have previously commented on their quarterly management call comments; these previous posts are found under the “paycheck to paycheck” tag.

Here are various excerpts that I find most notable:

comments from Doug McMillon, President and CEO, page 1, wrt Walmart U.S.: 

For the quarter, Walmart U.S. delivered strong comp sales growth of
2.6 percent due primarily to improved comp traffic growth in stores of 1.6
percent. Strength was broad-based across merchandise categories,
formats, and regions, and holiday sales were solid. In addition, comp store
inventory declined again for the eleventh consecutive quarter, so we’re
well-positioned as we begin the year. Sam’s Club comps improved 2.4
percent and in International, nine of eleven markets posted positive comp
sales. So overall, we were pleased with most aspects of the quarter and
confident in the foundational aspects of the business as we enter this new
fiscal year.

comments from Doug McMillon, President and CEO, page 2, wrt Walmart U.S.: 

Looking ahead, we expect eCommerce growth to increase from the
fourth quarter level as we enter the new year with about 40 percent growth
for the year.

comments from Doug McMillon, President and CEO, page 5:

Moving to Sam’s Club, you will remember that we made a decision
to close 63 Sam’s Club locations in the U.S. We’ve talked about
transforming the Sam’s business, and part of this transformation means
managing the club portfolio to include clubs that are both financially viable
and that fit within the strategic framework for the future. Closing stores and
clubs is difficult. It’s obviously difficult for our impacted associates and there
is never a good time to do it. John and the Sam’s team are working to place
as many of them as possible at nearby locations. These closures will help
us run a healthier business.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 8:

Before we get to the results, I’d like to highlight some
accomplishments for the full year.
 Total revenue surpassed $500 billion for the first time and increased
$15.1 billion, or 3.1 percent in constant currency.
 Walmart U.S. comp sales grew 2.1 percent – the highest growth rate
since fiscal 2009 – led by traffic growth of 1.4 percent.
 Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales grew 44 percent, reaching $11.5
 We made good progress on expenses, especially in Walmart U.S.
stores and International. Without the discrete items mentioned in
arriving at adjusted EPS, we would have leveraged expenses.
 Adjusted EPS increased 2 percent.
 Operating cash flow was $28.3 billion.
 The company returned $14.4 billion to shareholders through
dividends and share repurchases, and
 Strong working capital improvements continued.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 9:

Consolidated gross profit margin declined 61 basis points.
Approximately two-thirds of the decline was driven by price investments in
certain markets and the mix effect from our growing eCommerce business.
The remaining one-third was driven by Sam’s Club inventory markdowns
associated with closures, and other international items, including the winddown
of our Brazil first-party eCommerce business. Looking ahead to fiscal
2019, we’ll continue to make investments that will pressure the rate some,
but not to the extent of this quarter.


The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2727.56 as this post is written