Wal-Mart sees one-off costs, slower US sales

Wal-Mart sees one-off costs, slower US sales

Wal-Mart has said its full-year earnings could miss previously announced forecasts.

The US retail giant had previously said it expects underlying fourth-quarter earnings per share to total US$1.60-1.70, with full-year EPS anticipated to come in at $5.11-5.21. Including the impact of store closures in China and Brazil and the group's move to exit its Indian joint venture, Wal-Mart had forecast fourth-quarter EPS to total $1.50-1.60.

However, in a release to the market on Friday (31 January) CFO Charles Holley said the group now anticipates earnings to be "at or slightly below the low end of our range".

The company said earnings will be hit by a number of additional items. Wal-Mart has been the subject of scrutiny in Brazil over its tax bill. It is contesting some of the rulings but has set aside resources to cover the payments. The retailer said it has also received a "significant increase" in employment claims in the country, which will lead to further charges.

In China, costs linked to store closures will hit its bottom line. In the US, restructuring and store closures at its Sam's Club warehouse chain will also affect earnings. In total, these new items are expected to reduce earnings per share by $0.15.

The company also hinted of top-line woes in the US. It revealed its Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club are expected to report "slightly negative" comparable sales during its fourth quarter.

However, Wal-Mart shares closed slightly higher on Friday, rising to $74.68 from an open of $73.92. 

William Blair Equity Research analyst Mark Miller cut 2014 earnings expectations by $5.09 a share. "Shares trade at a P/E multiple of 13.4 times our calendar 2014 EPS estimate. While valuation remains modest, we believe decelerating top-line trends and negative estimate revisions are likely to keep shares in check," he wrote in an investor note. 

Show the press release

Walmart updates FY14 underlying EPS guidance for fourth quarter and full year

Press Release in PDF BENTONVILLE, Ark., Jan. 31, 2014 -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT:NYSE) today updated expectations for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2014 financial results that the company provided in its third quarter report issued on Nov. 14, 2013. The company will release its detailed report on the fourth quarter and full year as scheduled on Feb. 20, 2014.

The company had provided fourth quarter diluted earnings per share from continuing operations (EPS) guidance of $1.50 to $1.60, which included a $0.10 per share impact from two discrete items, which resulted in an underlying[1] EPS guidance range of $1.60 to $1.70. For the full year, the company expected to deliver EPS of $5.01 to $5.11 and accounting for the $0.10 of discrete items, the range for underlying EPS was between $5.11 and $5.21.

"We now anticipate that our underlying EPS for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 will be at or slightly below the low end of our range of $1.60 to $1.70," said Charles Holley, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. chief financial officer. "For the full year, we expect underlying EPS to be at or slightly below the low end of our range of $5.11 to $5.21.
"Today, we are providing updated information on previously disclosed items, as well as new additional discrete items that were not anticipated when we provided our fourth quarter and full year guidance. These discrete items will impact EPS results for the fourth quarter and the year," said Holley.

Holley reviewed the details of these new discrete items affecting the fourth quarter results as noted below.

[1] See additional information at the end of this release regarding the underlying EPS non-GAAP financial measure.

Previously disclosed items impacting EPS guidance for three months ended Jan. 31, 2014

Provided Nov. 14, 2013 Updated Jan. 31, 2014 50 store closures in Brazil and China $0.06 $0.06 India transaction $0.04 $0.05 Subtotal $0.10 $0.11

New discrete items

Brazil non-income tax contingencies $0.06
Brazil employment claim contingencies $0.05
China store lease expense charges $0.03
Sam's Club U.S. staff restructuring and club closure $0.01
Subtotal $0.15
Total EPS impact $0.26 *Note: All EPS amounts are approximate.

Detailed explanation on discrete items

Brazil and China store closures: Approximately 50 underperforming units between these two markets were closed.

India transaction: Walmart terminated the franchise and supply agreements related to retail stores. The estimated charge for this transaction is now approximately $0.05 per share versus the previous estimate of $0.04 per share.

Brazil non-income tax contingencies: The company is subject to tax examinations for non-income taxes in Brazil. A number of these examinations are ongoing, and in certain cases, have resulted in assessments from taxing authorities, some of which we are currently contesting. As part of the company's standard review process and as a result of changing conditions and circumstances, the company expects to record additional liabilities related to these loss contingencies.

Brazil employment claim contingencies: We expect to record additional charges related to employment claims. Walmart Brazil has experienced a significant increase in employment claims in recent years as a result of company efforts to improve productivity and reduce costs. The company has performed a detailed review of potential liabilities related to these claims, as well as a review of our historical processes and practices related to accounting for court deposits required to litigate such claims. As a result of this review, the company expects to record charges to increase our liabilities and account for settlements of historical employment claims.
China store lease expense charges: We identified a historical lease accounting practice that did not conform to our U.S. GAAP - based global policies. As a result, the company expects to record a charge to conform to this accounting practice.
Sam's Club U.S restructuring and club closure: Sam's Club is implementing a new in-club leadership and staff structure to better align U.S. club teams with the sales volume of each club, and expects to record a charge for severance - related costs. Additionally, one club is being closed.

The guidance range of $1.50 to $1.60 provided on Nov. 14, 2013 included $0.10 per share for the store closures and India transaction. With today's update, the additional impact on EPS from the new discrete items ($0.15) and the change on the India transaction ($0.01) are estimated to be approximately $0.16.

In the Nov. 14 third quarter report, Walmart also provided information on the pending sale of the Vips restaurant business in Mexico by Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica and the possible completion of the transaction in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval and is now expected to be completed in the first quarter of fiscal 2015. Vips is recorded in discontinued operations and the estimated future gain from the sale is expected to be approximately $0.06 per share.

Update on U.S. segment comp sales

Walmart also provided context for the comparable sales performance of its U.S. operating segments.

"For the 14-week period ending Jan. 31, 2014, we expect both Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club comp store sales, without fuel², to be slightly negative to the guidance provided in our third quarter report," Holley said. "Walmart U.S. guidance on Nov. 14 was for comp sales to be relatively flat, and Sam's expected comps, without fuel, to be between flat and 2 percent. Despite a holiday season that delivered positive comps, two factors contributed to lower comp sales performance for the 14-week period for Walmart U.S.," Holley explained. "First, the sales impact from the reduction in SNAP (the U.S. government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits that went into effect Nov. 1 is greater than we expected. And, second, eight named winter storms resulted in store closures that impacted traffic throughout the quarter.

"Sam's Club was also impacted by the weather throughout the quarter," Holley added.

The company will issue its detailed financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of fiscal 2014 and its expectations for fiscal year 2015 on Thurs., Feb. 20, 2014 at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Original source: Wal-Mart