Wal-Mart (WMT) is one of the strong ones, but even they’re not immune. The hard discounter, the scourge of the rest of the industry, said this morning that Q4 earnings would come in between $.91-$.94, down from prior estimates of $1.03-$1.07, a fairly significant shortfall. Shares are currently off about 7% pre-market.
“Due to the difficult economy and severe winter weather in some regions, the holiday season was more challenging for retailers than expected,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “We are pleased that we had positive traffic for the third month in a row and that Walmart performed relatively well given the environment.”
With mid-single digit comparable store sales results, grocery and health and wellness were the primary sales drivers for Walmart U.S. in the December period. Electronics sales were solid, while apparel and jewelry were soft. Weather conditions slowed sales in several areas of the country the week before Christmas, forcing the closure of 40 stores for periods ranging from two hours to nine days.
As for its December-only comps, the company grew 1.7% ex-fuel, lower than estimates of 2.8%.