Even though Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart's third-quarter net income increased 9.8% to $3.14 billion, or $0.80 per share. Income from continuing operations increased 6.6% to $3.03 billion.
Revenue increased 7.5% to $97.6 billion, and U.S. same-store sales jumped 3.3%; without fuel they would have increased a still impressive 3%. Meanwhile, in another metric Fools like to see increasing, Wal-Mart generated $2 billion in free cash flow in the first nine months of the year, compared to a deficit of $1.3 billion this time last year.
The bad news is Wal-Mart's guidance for fourth-quarter earnings of $1.03 per share and $1.07 per share. For the full year, it expects earnings between $3.42 per share and $3.46 per share.
The fact that Wal-Mart "tightened and modestly reduced" its guidance seems to give some investors a cold shudder. After all, this has been a chilling time as so many retailers have slashed or even withheld guidance due to incredibly tough times for consumers. Wal-Mart's word just a day after Best Buy
Wal-Mart is safe, but not immune to the spending slowdown; it's silly to imagine it would be. And while Wal-Mart has traditionally been one of my least favorite companies on the retail horizon (I just don't like how it does business), I have had to admit that its discount offerings in the current economic climate probably do make it a safer stock than most (and our Motley Fool CAPS community is pretty darn bullish on the stock -- it's got a four-star rating there).
I don't think there's any reason to dump shares of Wal-Mart, even if it shows it's not completely immune. It is without a doubt a survivor for these troubled times. However, I think a couple other things look even clearer: There will be some credit coal in Christmas stockings, and we may be witnessing the death of excessive luxury on the retail landscape. These elements should help Wal-Mart, especially in the near term.