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Walmart shares fall on earnings miss, retailer sees sales growth slowing in coming year

The big-box retailer’s fourth-quarter earnings missed Wall Street’s expectations as it tries to turn pandemic gains into sustained momentum.

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Walmart on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations as the retailer aims to turn the strength of its e-commerce business during the pandemic into lasting momentum and higher profits by boosting investment.

Shares were down nearly 6% Thursday morning, as investors reacted to the retailer’s warning that it expects sales to moderate this year. It said earnings per share will decline, but will range flat to slightly higher after excluding divestitures.

The big-box retailer has benefited from pandemic trends, as Americans buy more groceries, cleaning products and other essentials. It also got a boost in the fiscal fourth quarter as many customers spent their stimulus checks. But the pandemic has also increased its costs — in the fourth quarter alone Covid-related expenses tallied $1.1 billion.

Part of Walmart’s recent strength has come from investments it made long before the health crisis to boost its online business so it could provide services like curbside pickup and speedy delivery.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said at a virtual investor conference Thursday that it is retooling its business to better serve customers, tap new revenue streams and create a diverse ecosystem of services, from delivering groceries to people’s fridges to offering annual health checkups and new kinds of financial services. It’s also bulking up its advertising business.

“Think of it as a flywheel that’s spinning, powered by a mutually reinforcing set of assets,” he said, in explaining how each of the businesses will support each other.

He said it will step up investments to adjust to the significant ways the pandemic has transformed the retail business. For example, he said Walmart will spend on automation to speed up the number of curbside pickup orders it can fill.

All told, Walmart is targeting about $14 billion in capital expenditures this fiscal year, up from a rate of $10 billion to $11 billion, as it invests in supply chain, automation and improvements to the customer experience, the company’s CFO Brett Biggs said.

McMillon described Walmart+, its subscription service, as “an important piece of our strategy.” He said the membership program, which launched in the fall, will drive repeat purchases by customers and give the company valuable data it could use to tailor their experience and grow its ads business. The service costs $98 a year or $12.95 a month.

He said it will also boost the wages of U.S. workers, raising the average for hourly employees to above $15 per hour.

“This is a time to be even more aggressive because of the opportunity we see in front of us,” he said in a news release. “The strategy, team and capabilities are in place. We have momentum with customers, and our financial position is strong.”

Stimulus boosted sales

In the latest quarter, Walmart’s e-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 69% — a large number, but the slowest growth rate since the start of the global health crisis. Same-store sales in the U.S. grew by 8.6%, higher than the 5.8% increase expected by a StreetAccount survey. Its membership subsidiary Sam’s Club also reported low single-digit same-store sales growth, excluding fuel and tobacco.

For the three months ended Jan. 31, Walmart posted a loss of $2.09 billion, or 74 cents per share, compared with earnings of $4.14 billion, or $1.45 share, a year earlier. The company said a loss on its U.K. and Japanese operations reduced earnings by $2.66 per share, which was partially offset by a gain of 49 cents per share on equity investments.

Excluding these and other items, Walmart earned $1.39 per share, missing analyst estimates. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had expected Walmart to earn $1.51 per share.

Total revenue grew by 7.3% to $152.1 billion from $141.67 billion a year earlier, topping Wall Street’s expectations of $148.30 billion.

Sam’s Club reported same-store sales grew by 8.5% excluding fuel and tobacco, while its e-commerce sales jumped by 42%.

Biggs told CNBC the company could get another boost if the government approves a new round of stimulus payments.

“When money hits we see spending pick up pretty quickly and I would anticipate if we get another round of stimulus, which is obviously being debated, that we would see something similar,” he said.

E-commerce sales growth ebbs

The decelerating pace of e-commerce growth rate points to some challenges it will face as tailwinds from the global health crisis trends fade. More Americans are getting Covid vaccines and can spend their budget in other ways, such as going out to dinner or filling up the gas tank on a commute back to the office.

Walmart is also under pressure to turn thriving parts of its business into money-makers. Online services that have gained popularity, such as curbside pickup, require additional labor as employees pick and pack orders. That translates to higher labor costs that Walmart has not been passing on to its customers, even as more take advantage of the convenience of shopping online.

Walmart’s e-commerce business has had dramatic gains, but it has not yet turned a profit. However, Biggs said its e-commerce margins continue to improve.

Walmart is raising its dividend by a penny to 55 cents per share and approved a $20 billion stock buyback program.

Read the full press release here.

—CNBC’s Courtney Reagan contributed to this report.

UPDATE: The Refinitiv estimate was adjusted to exclude the impact of a U.K. tax issue.

Part of Walmart’s recent strength has come from investments it made long before the health crisis to boost its online business so it could provide services like curbside pickup and speedy delivery.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/18/walmart-wmt-earnings-q4-2021.html

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GameStop sales rise 25% as retailer chases e-commerce growth, says it may sell 5 million shares

GameStop sales rose 25% in the fiscal first quarter as the company focuses on e-commerce and tries to stage a turnaround.

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SELINSGROVE, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES – 2021/01/27: A woman walks past the GameStop store inside the Susquehanna Valley Mall. An online group sent share prices of GameStop (GME) and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) soaring in an attempt to squeeze short sellers.

Photo by Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

GameStop‘s sales rose 25% in the fiscal first quarter, as the video game retailer embarks on a turnaround strategy partially fueled by a Reddit-inspired stock rally. The company also named former Amazon executive Matt Furlong as its new CEO.

Shares fell more than 12% in extended trading on Wednesday, after the company declined to provide an outlook for the year and said it may sell as many as 5 million shares.

Here’s how the company did for the fiscal first quarter ended May 1, compared with Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Loss per share: 45 cents per share adjusted vs. 84 cents expected
  • Revenue: $1.28 billion vs. $1.16 billion expected

In the quarter, GameStop reported that its net loss narrowed to $66.8 million, or $1.01 per share, from a loss of $165.7 million, or $2.57 per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company had a loss of 45 cents per share. Analysts were expecting GameStop to report a loss of 84 cents per share, according to Refinitiv.

Total revenue grew to $1.28 billion from $1.02 billion a year earlier, topping Wall Street’s expectations of $1.16 billion.

The company declined to provide a forecast for the year. It said sales momentum continued into the second quarter, with total sales in May increasing about 27% compared with the same month a year ago.

GameStop filed a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to 5 million shares of its stock from time to time, in “at-the-market” offerings. The funds it raises through these stock sales will be used for general corporate purposes, investing in growth initiatives and strengthening its balance sheet, the company said.

As of May 1, GameStop said, it had paid off its long-term debt and no longer had any borrowings under its asset-based revolving credit facility.

The video game retailer’s stock has gyrated wildly over the past several months as retail traders have shared tips on Reddit and tried to fuel short squeezes for companies including GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Bed Bath & Beyond and Clover Health — collectively the group has become known as meme stocks.

GameStop’s shares are up 1,506% so far this year. Its shares have swung from a 52-week low of $3.77 to a 52-week high of $483. As of Wednesday’s close, shares were $302.56. Its market value is $21.41 billion.

The trading frenzy has gotten the attention of the SEC. In a filing Wednesday, GameStop said it had received a request from the SEC on May 26 to voluntarily provide documents and information. The company said it was reviewing that request and planned to cooperate.

GameStop has tried to catch investors’ attention in other ways, as it focuses more on e-commerce and poaches talent from other companies. This spring, it tapped Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen to lead efforts to grow the online business. He was named chairman at a shareholder meeting Wednesday. The company also hired several former Amazon executives, including Jenna Owens, its new chief operating officer; Matt Francis, its first chief technology officer; and Elliott Wilke, its chief growth officer.

Yet some analysts are unconvinced that the longtime brick-and-mortar retailer can pivot its business and believe the company has been propped up by speculation.

Loop Capital analyst Anthony Chukumba dropped his coverage of GameStop earlier this year following the Reddit frenzy. He told CNBC that the video game retailer’s challenges run deep regardless of who it hires.

“It’s great that these guys worked at Amazon. Amazon is a very successful retailer that I do cover, that I’m very familiar with, but at the end of the day, GameStop’s problems have very little, if anything, to do with e-commerce,” Chukumba said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

“Their problem is not that they’re not a good omnichannel retailer. The problem is that gamers are increasingly downloading video games,” he added. “Look, they can hire Jeff Bezos when he comes back from space. … It’s not going to make a difference. The symptoms are not aligned with the medicine that the doctor is giving them. You can hire anyone you want from Amazon — not going to make a difference.”

Read the company’s earnings press release here and its CEO announcement here.

— CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this story.

Correction: GameStop named former Amazon executive Matt Furlong as its new CEO. An earlier version of this story misstated his first name.

Here’s how the company did for the fiscal first quarter ended May 1, compared with Refinitiv consensus estimates:

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/09/gamestop-gme-earnings-q1-2021.html

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Homeowners got $2 trillion richer during the first three months of the year

Home prices have been soaring, so homeowners have been getting richer, at least on paper. The equity numbers are staggering.

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Helen H. Richardson | Denver Post | Getty Images

Homeowners are getting richer and richer as prices keep soaring – and the numbers are staggering.

Those with mortgages — about 62% of all properties — saw their equity jump by 20% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic. This represents a collective cash gain of close to $2 trillion. Per borrower, the average gain was $33,400.

The massive gain is thanks to soaring home prices, which CoreLogic said were up over 11% in March, the end of the quarter, from a year earlier. That’s the sharpest gain since 2006. Prices rose an even stronger 13% in April.

High demand for homes spurred by the coronavirus pandemic amid an already low supply caused bidding wars in markets across the nation. Record-low mortgage rates for much of last year only added to the buying frenzy and helped fuel the price gains.

“Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market, especially for older homeowners and baby boomers who’ve experienced years of price appreciation.”

As of June 1, there were still just over 2 million homeowners in Covid-related mortgage bailout programs, according to the Black Knight real estate data company. As these plans begin to expire, having home equity will help those in trouble. They can still sell and get out with a potential profit if they have to.

“This reduces the likelihood for a large numbers of distressed sales of homeowners to emerge from forbearance later in the year,” CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft said, adding that the average homeowner now has about $216,000 in equity.

The share of borrowers in a negative equity position, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, consequently dropped. From the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, the total number of mortgaged homes in negative equity decreased by 7% to 1.4 million homes, or 2.6% of all mortgaged properties. Annually, the number of underwater homes dropped by 24%.

Home values are expected to cool off in coming months because buyers are already hitting an affordability wall. Sales have begun to slow, and price drops usually follow.

Home prices are not, however, expected to crash, since there is still strong demand for housing, and the demographics support that going forward. As prices moderate, buyers will come back. Unlike the last time home prices crashed, today’s mortgage underwriting is far more stringent.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/10/homeowners-got-2-trillion-richer-during-first-three-months-of-2021.html

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Stitch Fix shares soar as sales top estimates, styling service raises full-year outlook

Stitch Fix’s sales topped analysts’ estimates, driven by consumers refreshing their wardrobes and looking for styles in new sizes.

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The Stitch Fix application for download in the Apple App Store on a smartphone arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S., on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Stitch Fix Inc. is scheduled to release earning on June 7.

Tiffany Hagler-Geard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stitch Fix shares soared Monday after the online shopping and styling service reported a narrower-than-expected loss in its fiscal third quarter.

Sales topped analysts’ estimates, driven by consumers refreshing their wardrobes for summer vacations and the office and looking for styles in new sizes.

The stock was recently up around 15% in extended trading.

Stitch Fix also raised its revenue outlook for the full year, after previously lowering it due to the uncertainty stemming from the Covid pandemic. It offered a better-than-expected sales outlook for its fiscal fourth quarter.

President and incoming CEO Elizabeth Spaulding noted that as the apparel retail backdrop improves across the country, the company is building momentum. In its men’s business, for example, button-down shirts are trending and suit requests are back up. Stitch Fix said its tailored shop is outperforming its lounge selection.

Here’s how Stitch Fix did during the period ended May 1 compared with what analysts were anticipating, using Refinitiv estimates:

  • Loss per share: 18 cents vs. 27 cents expected
  • Revenue: $535.6 million vs. $511 million expected

Stitch Fix’s loss narrowed to $18.8 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with a loss of $33.9 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier. That was better than the 27 cent loss expected by analysts.

Revenue grew 44% to $535.6 million from $371.7 million a year earlier, topping estimates for $511 million.

Its active client count grew 20% year over year to 4.1 million and was up 234,000 from the previous quarter. Stitch Fix defines active clients as people who have bought an item directly from its website in the preceding 52 weeks from the last day of the quarter.

Revenue per active client came in at $481, down 3% from a year earlier but up 3% from the prior quarter.

For fiscal 2021, Stitch Fix is now calling for revenue to be in the range of $2.07 billion to $2.08 billion, which would imply year-over-year growth of 20.9% to 21.5%. Earlier this year, it had lowered its annual sales forecast for growth of 18% to 20%. Analysts have been looking for year-over-year revenue growth of 19.1%.

For the fourth quarter, it expects sales to be up 21.8% to 24% from a year earlier. Analysts had been looking for a 20.6% increase.

The company is still working to improve the window of time it takes for it to receive orders of merchandise to its warehouses, which were elongated over the holiday season and have weighed on recent results. CFO Dan Jedda said Monday that the shipping windows have come back down to pre-holiday levels, but remain heightened compared with a year earlier.

Before the end of its fiscal year, Stitch Fix is set to launch its direct-buy service, which allows customers to purchase items individually from its app, to the public. Currently, only subscribers can use the direct-buy service. Stitch Fix has said the offering is an evolution of its business that should help it to continue to grow sales and reach new users.

Spaulding is set to succeed founder and CEO Katrina Lake on Aug. 1.

As of market close Monday, Stitch Fix shares are down about 1% year to date. The company’s market cap is $6.2 billion.

Find the full financial press release from Stitch Fix here.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/07/stitch-fix-sfix-reports-q3-2021-results.html

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