Retailing giant Walmart (WMT 0.66%) reported its fiscal 2020 third-quarter earnings before the market opened Thursday. The company delivered better-than-expected profits, driven by strong comparable-store sales and robust growth in e-commerce.
The continued strong results have been ongoing since early 2018, showing Walmart has cracked the code for competing in a world increasingly geared toward e-commerce.
Let's look at a few of the most important metrics that led to the positive results. Here are five takeaways from Walmart's robust earnings report.
1. Strong sales growth continues
For the quarter ending Oct. 25, Walmart delivered revenue of $128 billion, up about 2.5% year over year. This was slightly below analysts' consensus estimates of $128.65 billion. Excluding the headwinds from unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates, however, the results would have been better, with revenue of $129 billion, up 3.3%. Exchange rates hit the top line by about $1 billion.
Net sales at U.S. locations grew 3.2% year over year, while sales at international locations increased by 1.3%, reversing declines from Q2. Excluding the impact of negative foreign currency headwinds, international sales shined, increasing 4.8% in constant currency.
2. Comps continue to trek upward
Comparable-store sales in the U.S. were instrumental in Walmart's continued success, increasing 3.2% year over year. This marked the 21st consecutive quarter of positive comps in the U.S. for the retail powerhouse. On a two-year stacked basis, comps accelerated sequentially to 6.6%, marking comp growth of more than 6% for five of the past six quarters.
The improving comparables were driven by comp transactions (customer traffic) that increased 1.3% and comp tickets (the average register tape) that grew by 1.9%.
3. Earnings per share soared
After several quarters of heavy investment that took a toll on the bottom line, Walmart's profits jumped. Earnings per share of $1.15 nearly doubled compared to the prior-year quarter. This was driven by U.S. operating income that increased by 6.1%.
That's not to say there weren't challenges. Including international operations, operating income declined by 5.4%, or 4.1% in constant currency, partially the result of a noncash writedown in the value of Walmart's investment in Chinese e-commerce operator JD.com (JD 2.43%). Excluding that charge, operating income would actually have risen slightly.
4. There was surging e-commerce growth
Walmart continued to demonstrate its growing strength in the digital sales arena. The company reported e-commerce sales that increased 41% year over year, driven by a "meaningful contribution" from online grocery sales. E-commerce sales at warehouse outlet Sam's Club continued to improve, up 32% compared to the prior-year quarter. Digital sales also improved in Walmart's international markets, led by China, which nearly doubled year over year, and Mexico, which grew by 65%.
In prepared remarks, CFO Brett Biggs said that since the launch of NextDay delivery in May, Walmart has expanded the service to more than 75% of the U.S. population. Increased adoption by consumers is helping lower the cost by reducing the need to split shipments.
5. Omnichannel initiatives are gaining steam
Walmart continued the omnichannel offensive that has proved to be such an effective technique for increasing sales while also drawing shoppers into its stores.
CEO Doug McMillon said the company was seeing growing success in online grocery ordering, pickup, and delivery in more than a dozen countries. In the U.S., more than 3,000 locations now allow customers to pick up their orders, and more than 1,400 locations provide delivery services.