Wal-Mart Stores today (21 February) set a forecast for first-quarter earnings below analyst estimates amid caution over the economy and consumer confidence.
The world’s largest retailer said it expects first-quarter earnings per share of US$1.11 to $1.16. It compared to a forecast of $1.19 according to a Bloomberg poll of 18 analysts.
“These estimates consider current economic factors that are affecting customers in many of our markets,” Wal-Mart CFO Charles Holley said.
The outlook came as Wal-Mart reported higher profits and sales for the last three months of its last financial year and for the 12 months as a whole.
Annual net income was up 8.3% on a 5% rise in total revenue. Sales and operating income increased in the US and from Wal-Mart’s international operations. Comparable-store sales in the US, excluding fuel, increased 0.2%.
CEO Mike Duke called the 12 months a “really good year” for Wal-Mart. Looking ahead, Holley added: “We know there are challenges ahead, but we believe our strong financial position, along with our EDLC and EDLP operating model.”
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Shares in Wal-Mart were up 2.15% at $70.70 at 10:15 ET. Wal-Mart lifted its dividend for 2014, which helped boost the shares.
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