Retail giant Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart #1: First-quarter revenue was up 9.5%; earnings were up 13.6%. Excluding one-time items, earnings grew from $.50 to $.55 a share. All are record highs.
Wal-Mart #2: Actual sales of $70.9 billion missed the average analyst estimate of $72.0 billion. Earnings, estimated at $0.56 a share, came in one cent short. Simply put, the company missed estimates.
Wal-Mart #1: Comparable same-store sales were up 2.9% in the current quarter.
Wal-Mart #2: Comparable same-store sales have fallen for four consecutive years. From a peak of 6% in 2002, they dropped to 3% for fiscal year 2005 (which ended last January). That trend continued into the first quarter. Last year, first-quarter same-store sales were up 6.4% -- more than twice this quarter's growth.
Comparing same-store sales to competitors doesn't improve the picture. In April, same-store sales at Wal-Mart were up 0.9%; Target
Wal-Mart #1: "We are making the necessary adjustments and I anticipate better results in the second half of the year," said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's president and CEO, in the report.
Wal-Mart #2: To the "I can't believe they said this" file for the week, add this choice morsel from the report: "Yet with higher gasoline prices and a cooler and wetter spring than normal, we missed our plan." So, what's to be adjusted, Wal-Mart #1? You can't change the weather or gasoline prices.
Wal-Mart #1: Analysts expect earnings of $2.72, up 12.9%, for fiscal year 2006 (ending January), and 2007 earnings of $3.08, a 13.2% increase. The stock is selling for a very reasonable 15.4 times fiscal year 2007 earnings. Dividend yield is 0.5%, and the company has increased its dividend every year since declaring its first dividend in 1974. Wal-Mart also repurchased $4.5 billion of its own shares in fiscal 2005.
Wal-Mart #2: Look at this five-year chart of Wal-Mart's stock price. An optimist would say it has moved sideways. A pessimist would note that the current price is lower than the last five years' average.
Summary: Wal-Mart is a massive corporation with hefty fiscal year 2005 profits of $10.3 billion. Return on assets, a better measure of performance, stood at a strong 9.3%, toward the high end of the company's performance over the last 11 years. That also compares favorably with the 5.9% at Target and 6.5% at Costco.
While the total debt seems large at $35.7 billion, including capital lease obligations and deferred tax liabilities, operating income for the first quarter covered interest expense 19.8 times (14.6 times the recently ended fiscal year).
Wal-Mart was overpriced five years ago. Year-over-year sales for the last five fiscal years rose 83% and earnings jumped almost 100% -- yet the stock wilted. While same-store sales decline is a concern, the company's return on assets shows its financial health. The stock may surrender a few more dollars (it didn't set a new 52-week low today), but the company is reaching levels that should tempt value investors.
Stock up on these Foolish takes on Wal-Mart from Selena Maranjian:
- The company's new environmental program is no quick fix.
- Wal-Mart is the example in this analysis of return on assets.
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