BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores here said last week it achieved earnings records for the year and fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 -- more than $6 billion of net income for the year and $2 billion of net income for the 13-week quarter.
Sales for the year rose 15.9% to $191.3 billion and net income jumped 17.1% to $6.3 billion. For the quarter, sales were up 10% to $56.6 billion and net income increased 4.5% to $2 billion.
The company did not release comparable sales for the year. However, it said overall comps were up 3.1% for the quarter, including a 3% increase at the Wal-Mart stores division, which encompasses discount centers and supercenters, and a 3.3% jump at Sam's Clubs.
In a prerecorded call discussing the company's financial results, Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer, said food sales at Wal-Mart's 888 supercenters and 19 Neighborhood Markets exceeded sales at discount stores for the second year in a row, although he did not discuss specific numbers.
He also said food comps were up 9%, "which indicates great customer acceptance of our food offerings -- and the returns continue to grow."
Tom Schoewe, chief financial officer, said comparable sales at supercenters were double what they were at discount stores and 200 basis points higher, although he did not pinpoint specific numbers.
He also said food sales at supercenters rose nearly 32% for the quarter and 34% for the year -- "a very impressive performance," he noted -- and gross margins in food rose 30 basis points for the year.
Scott said Wal-Mart will open 15 to 20 new Neighborhood Markets this year. "Customer acceptance of these convenience-oriented outlets is encouraging," he said, "although we will continue to refine the concept."
During 2000, Wal-Mart said it opened 12 Neighborhood Markets, in addition to 167 supercenters, including 104 conversions of discount stores.