Increased first-quarter profits reported by Walmart on surge in online sales

AFP
May 19, 2020

Shares rose following the results, which topped analyst expectations despite higher costs

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NEW YORK: Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, reported increased first-quarter profits Tuesday following a surge in e-commerce sales for groceries and essential items from consumers stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart said US e-commerce sales jumped a staggering 74% in the quarter ending April 30.

The profits rose 3.9% to $4.0 billion on an 8.6% increase in revenues to $134.6 billion.

Shares rose following the results, which topped analyst expectations despite higher costs.

Walmart paid special cash bonuses to line workers, equipped staff with safety masks and sneeze guards at checkout stations and moved quickly to create or expand programs such as curbside pickup and mail-to-home service for pharmacy sales.

The company said it was discontinuing Jet.com, which it acquired in 2016 as Walmart was building up its online sales business. The move reflects the "continued strength of the Walmart.com brand," Walmart said.

The retail giant joined the large number of publicly-traded companies to withdraw its annual profit forecast, citing "significant uncertainty" on the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and its effect on consumer confidence.

"Customers trust us to delivery on our brand promise, and I'm confident in our ability to perform well in almost any environment," said chief financial officer Brett Biggs.

"While the short-term environment will be challenging, we're positioned well for long-term success."

Shares rose 3.7% to $132.50 in pre-market trading.



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