BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Walmart Inc.’s earnings and sales spiked during the second quarter of fiscal 2021, ended July 31. As many consumers sought solutions brought on by stay-at-home orders, limited mobility and closed businesses, they embraced the retailer’s omnichannel model.
Walmart’s net income for the quarter rose sharply to $6.5 billion, equal to $2.29 per share on the common stock, 79% higher than the same period during the previous year.
Sales for the quarter rose 6% to $137 billion.
“The order of tailwinds that impacted the business were: one, stimulus; two, eating at home; three, being at home and all the things that you wanted to do to have the indoors and outdoors be more pleasurable,” said C. Douglas McMillon, president and chief executive officer, during an Aug. 19 conference call to discuss the results with securities analysts. “And you weren’t spending money if you’re a customer on travel and lodging and things like that, so those dollars were available for you to buy things for your home as well.”
Sales for the Walmart US business unit rose 10% to $93 billion. Operating income rose 9% to $5 billion.
Walmart US e-commerce sales rose 97% during the quarter.
“E-commerce sales were strong throughout the quarter, contributing approximately two-thirds of the segment comp growth,” said M. Brett Briggs, chief financial officer. “We saw significant increases in repeat rates and weekly active digital customers, and we continue to make progress on assortment expansion and seller tools with eCommerce marketplace sales growing triple digits.
“We’re accelerating investments in omni fulfillment solutions, including the continued rollout of same-day pickup and delivery services to more stores, expanding store pickup and delivery slots by nearly 30% since February and permanently increasing ship-from-store capabilities from pre-COVID levels.”
The second quarter for Walmart US started strong, Mr. Briggs said. Grocery sales had another strong quarter, including in fresh products. Grocery growth in the United States was about $3 billion during the quarter, according to the company. But things changed toward the end of the quarter.
“As stimulus funds tapered off toward the end of the quarter, sales started to normalize, but July comps still grew more than 4%,” he said.
Walmart’s International unit saw sales fall 7% to $27 billion. Operating income fell 9% to $812 million.
“International’s results are better than anticipated coming into the quarter,” Mr. Briggs said. “Despite operational limitations in several markets due to the crisis, including the government-mandated closure of Flipkart, net sales increased 1.6% in constant currency, including nearly 40% growth in eCommerce. Seven of 10 markets posted positive comp sales. Sales in Canada and China were exceptionally strong, and Mexico showed solid results.”
Walmart has suspended guidance citing market uncertainty, but analysts on the call were eager to get management’s perspective about consumer sentiment and the US economy.
“There’s just a lot of uncertainty right now and so much variance in how customers are feeling about their situation,” Mr. McMillon said. “And this decision that the government’s got to make about phase four investments is an important one, and I think it’s really important as it relates to small business. And this economy and this country is driven so much by small- and medium-sized businesses that we want to see something happen there that will help support those folks.
“I think the larger companies are getting things sorted out, and the government is paying attention to the larger companies that need some sort of financial support. But it’s that small business group that, in particular, I think we all need to keep our eye on and will probably determine just what this economy looks like on the other side of the phase four stimulus.”
Net income for the first six months of fiscal 2021 totaled $10.5 billion, equal to $3.70 per share, up 40% when compared to the first six months of fiscal 2020.
Sales for the period rose 7% to $271 billion.