BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here on Thursday said U.S. comparable-store sales for the fiscal third quarter were down 0.3%, and it trimmed its profit outlook for the year.
Grocery comps were down 0.7% for the 13-week period, which ended Oct. 25.
Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer, Walmart U.S., said in a recoded conference call that overall inflation was “muted,” despite slight increases in some categories, including dairy,and produce. He also said he was “pleased with the continued strength in produce and adult beverages, which delivered mid single-digit and high single-digit positive comps, respectively.”
He said the company’s aggressive mass-merchandising events, including Stock Up and Save, and October Savings, drove sales in categories including snacks, beverages, baby consumables and paper products.
“Throughout the fourth quarter we'll be focused on mass merchandising, featured items and special holiday promotions in grocery to help customers stretch their paychecks a little further,’ he said.
Wal-Mart said overall operating income for the quarter was up 3.6%, to $6.3 billion, and total sales rose 1.6%, to $114.9 billion. On a constant currency basis, sales would have been $116.2 billion.
The company lowered its earnings forecast for the year for a second time, to between $5.01 per share and $5.11 per share, vs. a previous forecast of $5.10 to $5.30. The new guidance includes the impact of approximately 10 cents per share for certain items which we previously disclosed, including store closures in Brazil and China and the termination of a retail franchise agreement in India. Accounting for these factors, the company's new guidance for fourth earnings will range between $5.11 and $5.21.
Mike Duke, Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive officer, said Wal-Mart is focused on driving top-line sales and gaining market share.
“Traffic continued to improve from the first half of the year, and we gained market share again in some of our most important categories,” he said.
The company saw comps grow 3.4% at its Neighborhood Market format, which Duke called “in line with best-in-class competitors,” noting that the company is on pace to expand that small format banner by “almost 50%” this year.
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