Wal-Mart grocery section
Wal-Mart saw a surge in its grocery business in the latest quarter.

BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. saw a surge in its grocery business in the latest quarter, driven by strong sales of meat, bakery items and produce, said C. Douglas McMillon, president and chief executive officer.

Net income attributable to Wal-Mart Stores in the third quarter ended Oct. 31 was $1,749 million, equal to 59c per share on the common stock, down 42% from $3,034 million, or 98c, in the prior-year period. Excluding special items, which included a loss on early extinguishment of debt, an accrual related to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act matter, and impairment of certain international properties, adjusted earnings per share were $1.

Total revenues of $123,179 million were up 4.2% from $118,179 million.

Wal-Mart U.S. operating income rose 0.8% to $4,030 million from $3,999 million, and net sales increased 4.3% to $77,724 million from $74,550 million.

Doug McMillon, Walmart
C. Douglas McMillon, president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart

“We had a strong quarter with comp sales growth of 2.7% and comp traffic growth of 1.5%,” Mr. McMillon said during a Nov. 16 earnings call. “While we recognize that there are some incremental hurricane-related sales in these numbers, our core business is performing well. Greg Foran and the team continue to improve our U.S. stores.

“Across almost all categories, we’re seeing growth. The food business, in particular, has accelerated and delivered the strongest quarterly comp sales performance in almost six years with our fresh meat, bakery and produce teams leading the way. Expense leverage has also been a priority, and we’re pleased that the segment leveraged expenses in the third quarter.”

The company has expanded on-line grocery to more than 1,100 stores, with plans to roll out to 1,000 more locations next year, he said.

Wal-Mart on-line grocery shopping, e-commerce
Wal-Mart has expanded on-line grocery to more than 1,100 stores.

“Wal-Mart U.S. e-commerce sales were up 50% this quarter, with the majority of the increase through walmart.com,” Mr. McMillon said. “Existing customers have become advocates for popular initiatives like on-line grocery and free two-day shipping. And as a result, new customers, suppliers and partnerships are coming to Wal-Mart. The expanded assortment on walmart.com has also contributed to growth. Over the past year, we’ve tripled the number of items on walmart.com to reach more than 70 million s.k.u.s today.”

Based on strong year-to-date performance, the company raised its guidance for full-year adjusted earnings per share to a range of $4.38 to $4.46, up from a previous target of $4.30 to $4.40.