So maybe the Walmart U.S. isn’t lighting things up on the same-store sales front just yet; the division did manage to grow total sales by 0.6% to $62.7 billion and increase operating profits by 0.8% to $4.65 billion. This despite the fact that division president and CEO Bill Simon noted the paycheck cycle remains pronounced, and higher year-over-year gas prices are eating into the disposable income of the company’s core shoppers who are consolidating trips.
“During the quarter, we saw continued pressure from ongoing macroeconomic conditions as customers continued to trade down to opening price points and some private label products,” Simon said.
The modest sales and operating profit growth at the U.S. division contributed to an overall company performance that saw earning per share increase to 98 cents from 87 cents. Total net income grew 3.8% to $3.4 billion on sales that increased 4.4% to $103.4 billion.
Earnings per share calculations benefitted from the company’s ongoing activity in the market. Roughly $2.1 billion was spent during the first quarter to purchase approximately 39.3 million Walmart shares. Only about $2.7 billion remains on the original $15 billion share repurchase program authorized last year at this time so expectations in the financial community are high the program will be recharged with an announcement regarding the size of the new program coming around the time of this year’s shareholders’ meeting on June 3.