Walmart earnings smash expectations after weaker quarter from Target

Walmart (WMT) is winning over US shoppers as inflation continues to take a toll.

In the retail giant’s second quarter earnings release, out before the market open on Thursday, Walmart posted same-store sales rose 6.30%. Meanwhile, its competitor Target (TGT), which reported Q2 results Wednesday, saw a 5.4% drop in sales and shared a dreary outlook for the rest of the year.

This comes as consumers’ wallets remain pinched from ongoing headwinds like higher gas prices, a slowdown in the US job market, the looming return of student loan payments this fall, higher mortgage rates, higher interest rates, and higher costs for groceries.

Foot traffic increased for Walmart, up 2.8%, along with a higher ticket, up 3.4%. The company’s focus on e-commerce seems to be working, with online sales up 2.3% in the quarter.

Sales at Walmart’s wholesale business, Sam’s Club US, also got a boost last quarter, rising 5.5%, but that was slightly lower than estimates of up 5.58%. The back-to-school and automotive categories performed well as consumers packed their bookshelves and backpacks ahead of the back-to-school season.

In Q3, Walmart expects sales to increase 3% and adjusted earnings per share to be between $1.45 and $1.50. Walmart also raised its full-year guidance. The retail giant expects sales to increase approximately 4% to 4.5% and earnings to be in a range of $6.36 to $6.46 for the fiscal year. That’s up from a previously expected range of $6.10 and $6.20.

The earnings rundown:

Here’s what Walmart reported compared with Wall Street estimates, according to Bloomberg data.

  • Net revenue: $161.6 billion versus $159.7 billion expected

  • Adjusted diluted EPS: $1.84 versus $1.70 expected

  • US same-store sales growth: 6.3% versus 4.04% expected

  • Traffic growth: 2.90% versus 1.63% expected

  • Ticket growth: 3.40% versus 2.00% expected

  • E-commerce growth: 2.30% versus 1.54% expected

  • Gross margin: 23.38% versus 23.55% expected

  • Inventory growth: -5.34% versus 5.54% expected

Walmart by the numbers (Credit: Yahoo Finance, Source: Walmart)

Walmart by the numbers (Credit: Yahoo Finance, Source: Walmart)

What stood out to us: Walmart US gaining market share across categories

E-commerce is a booming business for the retail giant.

In Q2, E-commerce net sales increased 24%, led by pickup and delivery. Online sales now make up 15% of total sales, reaching $24 billion globally. In Walmart US, ecommerce sales are up 24% compared to last year.

In the US, Walmart continues to gain market share, gaining high single digit sales growth as grocery shoppers are buying more food at once and perishable food driven by pet and personal care products due to inflation.

The company also noted that its seeing growth in private label brands, up 40 basis points, a business they’ve been bulking up in recent years.

“We’ve seen customers that are trading down from chicken and pork straight into chicken and ground beef, from things like shrimp and steaks,” Walmart CFO John David Rainey told Yahoo Finance. He added customers “are also trading into private label, and that’s about 20% of our business for Walmart US. And frankly, the quality of those items is much better than it was several years ago.”

Inflation in the grocery category remained sticky but moderated by 4% compared to last quarter.

Its health and wellness business also saw a high-teens increase in sales last quarter. The company cited strong pharmacy sales reflected in script counts, a higher mix of branded versus generic prescriptions, strength in immunizations, and branded drug inflation.

Since 2019, the retail giant has built up Walmart Health, aimed at making healthcare more accessible using the retailer’s existing US footprint of 4,684 locations.

Walmart was not immune to consumers moving away from discretionary items, however. Last quarter the company saw general merchandise sales drop by low-single digits in items like apparel, home goods, and sporting goods.

Meanwhile, in the background, Walmart is building up its side hustle. In the US, Walmart saw a 36% spike in advertising compared to last year. The company rebranded its media business in 2021 to Walmart Connect.

Guggenheim analyst Robert Drbul said the business could represent a multibillion-dollar opportunity for the company, given “Walmart’s vision, reach, and ambition.”

What else we’re watching: C-suite changeup

On Wednesday, Walmart announced Sam’s Club CEO and president Kathryn McLay is moving into a new role as head of the international division, replacing Judith McKenna who is retiring, effective September 11, 2023.

As part of this change, Walmart US CEO John Furner outlined further executive changes in a letter to all Walmart employees obtained by Yahoo Finance.

Chris Nicholas, who previously served as COO and as CFO before that, was promoted to Sam’s Club US CEO and President. Kieran Shanahan, an exec in the International Operations divisions, was named executive vice president and COO for Walmart US.

What analysts said pre-earnings:

  • “We continue to believe Walmart is well positioned in an uncertain macro environment, with its price and value proposition and with increased convenience and assortment, despite persistent indicators of pressure on the consumer, including stubborn food inflation.” -Robert Drbul, Guggenheim

  • “Rollbacks continue to drive price leadership. Our checks point to an aggressive slate of Rollbacks for key Back-to-School items, which reinforces our near-term confidence on comp trends … Rollbacks are reinforcing price leadership in grocery and we expect to see a greater focus on general merchandise in the second half of the year. We do believe that comp upside may be more limited as inflation wanes, with data pointing to a comp consistent with our 3.9% US comp [same-store sales] view. However, we continue to expect a combination of expense discipline and more favorable merchandise mix to drive continued earnings strength.” -Edward Yruma, Piper Sandler

  • “[Walmart] is fundamentally turning the traffic corner, yet the stock refuses to break out and trails the market 300bps [year to date]. We think a clean beat and raise could get the Street to $6.50 in ’23 and $7+ in ‘24.” -Greg Melich, Evercore ISI

This story is breaking and being updated.

A shopper pushes a cart through the parking lot of a Walmart on the morning of Black Friday in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2022. - With inflation on the rise, retailers are expecting that many shoppers will be looking for especially good deals as discretionary spending falls. (Photo by Samuel Corum / AFP) (Photo by SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images)

A shopper pushes a cart through the parking lot of a Walmart on the morning of Black Friday in Wilmington, Del. on Nov. 25, 2022. (Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images)

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at

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