13818 Tue, 02/19/2008 - 1:36pm
BENTONVILLE, Ark.–Wal-Mart’s new “save money, live better” motto helped lift earnings in the fourth quarter, Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer, said during a conference call to review quarterly results.
The retailer also expects the home business to turn around next year, executives said.
For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, sales rose 8.3 percent to $106.269 billion—the first time a global retailer “has reached this milestone in sales,” Scott said. Net income rose to $4.096 billion from $3.940 billion in the year-ago period.
The retailer’s efforts to strengthen its price leadership helped drive holiday sales and outperform competitors during January, Scott said.
In home, “Wal-Mart is working hard on improvements,” Eduardo Castro Wright, president and chief executive officer of the Wal-Mart Stores division, said during the call.
“You will hear more from us [on home] later in the first quarter,” he said. “Our goal is to see improved sales in home by fiscal 2009.”
The retailer’s new home pads, which were tested in the third quarter, are “showing great promise,” Castro Wright said. They will be rolled out to more stores this year.
The home pads include upscale, curved wooden fixtures, low kitchenlike counter-top displays and bold lifestyle photography.
“Wal-Mart’s fourth quarter earnings per share results will likely be a standout this season, besting expectations due to better margins—we expect most other retailers to fall short due to weaker margins,” Adrianne Shapira, Goldman Sachs analyst, said in a research note. “We expect Wal-Mart’s tight inventory controls, aggressive pricing and defensive sales to pave the way for a better fiscal year 2008.”