Walmart sales surge, but profit takes a hit

An image of the sign for Walmart as photographed on March 16, 2020, in East Setauket, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as the sale of its Japan and United Kingdom divisions weighed on its performance. Sales, however, surged 7.4% increase in the period that includes the critical holiday shopping period.

The nation’s largest retailer also said Thursday that sales at stores opened at least a year rose 8.6% for the period ended Jan. 31, compared with 6.4% in the previous quarter.

Online sales rose 69%, but that is down from the 80% jump in the previous quarter, and the slowest growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

And the company said it expects overall sales to moderate this year. Shares dipped 5% before the opening bell Thursday.

Walmart Inc. lost $2.09 billion, or 74 cents per share, compared with last year’s $4.14 billion profit during the fourth quarter, or $1.45 per share. Net revenue reached $150.98 billion compared with $140.6 billion in the year ago period.

Adjusted per-share earnings came to $1.39, which was well short of the $1.51 that Wall Street expected, according to a survey by FactSet.

Industry analysts had projected revenue of $148.5 billion.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas said that COVID-related costs were $1.1 billion in during the latest quarter.

Walmart is on its way to becoming one of the biggest distributors of the COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. leans more heavily on pharmacies. Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies, of which more than 4,000 are in areas that the government has designated as “medically underserved,” or that have limited pharmacy options.


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