Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wal-Mart Continues Its March

It looks as though the "worm had turned" for Wal-Mart (WMT) finally.

With retailers like Target (TGT), Kohls (KSS), JC Penny (JCP) and Macy's (M) all reporting declines and disappointing numbers on Thursday, Wal-Mart's results look that much better.

Wal-Mart's total numbers:
                          Net Sales
5 Weeks Ended Percent 48 Weeks Ended Percent
1/4/2008 1/5/2007 Change 1/4/2008 1/5/2007 Change

Wal-Mart Stores $29.689 $28.127 5.6% $222.036 $209.583 5.9%
Sam's Club 4.938 4.735 4.3% 41.098 38.532 6.7%
International 11.970 10.130 18.2% 84.994 72.486 17.3%
Total Company $46.597 $42.992 8.4% $348.128 $320.601 8.6%
On a "same store sales" basis:

                             Five Weeks Comparable Store Sales
Without Fuel With Fuel Fuel Impact
1/4/2008 1/5/2007 1/4/2008 1/5/2007 1/4/2008 1/5/2007

Wal-Mart Stores 2.6% 2.3% 2.6% 2.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Sam's Club 1.3% 4.7% 3.4% 4.0% 2.1% -0.7%
Total U.S. 2.4% 2.6% 2.7% 2.6% 0.3% 0.0%
Why did Wal-Mart shine while the others all faltered? Two things folks cannot do without, food and drugs.

"In a difficult retail environment, we were pleased with our comparable store sales during this period," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart Stores U.S. president and chief executive officer. "Wal-Mart's food performance was very strong, which helped drive traffic to other areas of the stores.

"Our price leadership position was clear very early in the holiday season, and customers responded throughout the period to our pricing and merchandise offerings, which were supported by well-integrated advertising and in-store communications," he said. "Customers were also pleased with the improvements they saw through our faster, friendlier check-outs, as well as their overall in-store experiences. Our stores were well-merchandised and did a good job managing inventory throughout the Christmas season."

I have noticed a dramatic change in the local Wal-Mart the last three or four months with the staff. Checkout people now stand at the end of the registers so an open register is now easily identifiable. There also seems to be more of them to aid and assist with any questions I may have. It is hard to put a finger on but when I walk into th stores now, they just seem alive.

Wal-Mart gave its guidance and true to form they gave the same numbers they have given since last summer. Yawn. The key is that as the economy slows, Wal-Mart isn't and for shareholders, that is very good news..

Disclosure:Long WMT, None in others

Todd Sullivan's- ValuePlays

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