Only 25% of Wal-Mart’s revenue currently come from outside the United States–a plus in view of my projection of an earnings recession in the first three quarters of 2019 driven largely by slowing growth in economies other than the United States. And especially in China and Europe. In this environment I like Wal-Mart’s recent earnings beat and what that portends for the stability of Wal-Mart earnings and revenue during a period when stability has stock price value.
And I like the recent catalysts to Wal-Mart’s revenue and earnings: After years when eCommerce was the company’s big problem, especially vis-a-vis Amazon (AMZNWealth Strength IndexAAPL is Extremely Up and trending Up), e-Commerce has now turned into a relative strength. The other catalyst is the revenue growth that comes from the company’s fresh produce offerings, now about 60% of revenue. That fresh produce clout is tough for competitors to match given Wal-Mart’s huge distribution network and market size.
You can see much of this in the company’s report of earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2019 ending in January 2019 of earnings of $1.41 a share ($0.08 a share above Wall Street estimates) and of revenue of $137.74 billion, up 1.9% year over year and ahead of the Wall Street consensus of $137.6 billion. The company reported that comparable store sales grew 4.2% in the fourth quarter (vs estimates of 3.2%) and that U.S. eCommerce sales increased 43% year over year.For the full 2020 fiscal year, which began this February, the company said it sees earnings per share falling by low-double digits from the fiscal 2019 earnings of $4.91 (the Wall Street consensus is $4.71 for fiscal 2020) The company also said that it expects sales growth of at least 3% in constant currency terms. U.S. eCommerce sales are projected to grow by 35%.
The company also ticked its dividend higher by about 2% to $2.12 a share, up from $2.08 a share. Wal-Mart now sports a forward yield of 2.14%.
The trading 12-month price to earnings ratio looks expensive at 43, but the forward projected price to earnings ratio is a more modest 20 times.
The eCommerce reversal of fortunes has taken Walmart a lot of effort.in 2016 Wal-Mart bought Jet.com for $3 billion to up its digital game. In 2018 it bought 77% of India’s Flipkart. The company also owns about 10% of China’s eCommerce and logistics company JDWealth Strength IndexAAPL is Extremely Up and trending Up.com. And Wal-Mart is clearly not done. It bought Aspectiva, an Israeli-based start-up in artificial intelligence and natural language processing this week.
I’d add a third arrow to Wal-Mart’s quiver besides eCommerce momentum and the fresh produce effort that drives store traffic. That’s a very early effort to move into digital and real world advertising. If you’ve got Wal-Mart’s size and traffic, you’d figure companies like Procter & Gamble (PG) might be willing to spend on in store ads and digital displays.
Wal-Mart shares closed at $98.11 on February 27. I’m adding them to Jubak Picks with a target price of $110. Wal-Mart next reports earnings on May 16.