14455 Tue, 05/13/2008 - 12:48pm
BENTONVILLE, Ark.–Wal-Mart posted its strongest comparable-store sales in eight quarters for the first quarter ended April 30, but the home business remained pressured by the housing market malaise, executives said during a conference call.
However, “a major component” of the hard-lines business is driven by seasonal events and home performed well during Mother’s Day, Easter and Valentine’s Day, said Eduardo Castro Wright, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores USA, during the call.
Overall net sales rose 10.2 percent to $94.1 billion from the year-ago quarter. Net income rose 6.9 percent to $3.02 billion.
Sales growth was driven by price leadership and operational improvements.
Comp-store sales for Wal-Mart Stores rose 2.9 percent, the strongest comp performance for the U.S. business in eight quarters.
Wal-Mart’s quarterly performance eclipsed that of competitors across retail channels, fueled by leaner inventories and lower markdowns, as “customer traffic was up for the fist time in a very long time,” Castro Wright said.
At Wal-Mart International, the retailer is eyeing Russia and other neighboring European markets for expansion.
During the quarter, Bharti, Wal-Mart’s franchisee in India, opened three stores. The retailer is bullish on the Indian market for growth, where there is an “untapped demand for modern retailers,” said Mike Duke, who heads up Wal-Mart International, during the call.
China, Brazil and Canada were the strongest-performing international divisions.
Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, said he was “very pleased” with first-quarter results. Wal-Mart’s business model of selling branded merchandise for less “is even more relevant today given the current economic pressure,” Scott said.