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[video] What's to Blame For Wal-Mart's (WMT) Lower Guidance?

Tickers in this article: WMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wal-Mart has downwardly revised its fourth-quarter and full-year guidance on the back of lower sales and weaker foot traffic.

The mega-store giant said it sees fourth-quarter net income at or below the low-end of guidance between $1.60 a share. For the full-year ending January, earnings are expected at or below a previously forecast range of $5.11 to $5.21 a share. 

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected net profits of $1.65 a share for the fourth quarter and $5.17 a share for the full year. 

In the fourth quarter, management projects slightly negative comparable sales growth for both Wal-Mart stores and membership-only Sam's Club. Previously, Wal-Mart had been expected to post flat comparable sales and Sam's Club to see growth as high as 2%. 

The Arkansas-based business said a reduction in the government's Supplemental Neutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a high number of winter storms were to blame. 

"First, the sales impact from the reduction in SNAP (the U.S. government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits that went into effect Nov. 1 is greater than we expected," explained CFO Charles Holley in a statement. "Second, eight named winter storms resulted in store closures that impacted traffic throughout the quarter."

By mid-morning, shares had taken off 1.2% to $73.83.

TheStreet Ratings team rates WAL-MART STORES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate WAL-MART STORES INC (WMT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • WMT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.6%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • WAL-MART STORES INC has improved earnings per share by 6.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, WAL-MART STORES INC increased its bottom line by earning $5.01 versus $4.55 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.17 versus $5.01).
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Food & Staples Retailing industry and the overall market, WAL-MART STORES INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Food & Staples Retailing industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 2.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $3,635.00 million to $3,738.00 million.
  • The stock price has risen over the past year, but, despite its earnings growth and some other positive factors, it has underperformed the S&P 500 so far. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.