BENTONVILLE, Ark.-Even with sales under pressure both here and abroad, Walmart was able to bolster its bottom line by 1.1 percent to $3.8 billion in its first quarter ending on April 30.
The corporation as a whole did see sales gain 1 percent to $113.4 billion. However, this included a drop of 1.4 percent in same-store sales in Walmart’s U.S. operations. Same-club sales at Sam’s Club were up 0.2 percent factoring out gasoline sales, but adding gas sales brought a same-club sales decline of 0.2 percent.
Walmart observed that same-store sales at both U.S. operations felt the combined impact of delayed tax refund checks, cooler-than-expected weather in some of its markets, grocery price inflation that was less than expected and increased payroll taxes.
Mike Duke, Walmart’s president and CEO, noted that the company still delivered an increase in earnings in spite of the “considerable headwinds to top-line sales.” Duke added that Walmart’s e-commerce sales jumped 30 percent over last year’s first quarter.
Expenses were kept relatively in check in the quarter. Gross margin picked up three basis points to 24.2 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 1.2 percent in dollars and three basis points as a percentage of sales, to 19.1 percent.
Duke said he remained “confident” about Walmart’s performance for the remainder of the year. “Our expectations about our U.S. businesses’ performance, coupled with more discipline in international, will allow us to improve our performance throughout the year,” he said.