The discount giant revealed that third-quarter net income increased 6.1%, to $3.4 billion. Earnings came in at $0.95 per share, which included a $0.05-per-share tax benefit. Wal-Mart's sales rose 2.6% overall, to $101.2 billion. International revenue proved especially heartening, surging by 9.3% to $26.9 billion.
However, investors have been concerned with the company's slowing sales in the U.S., and that worry still dogs the retailer. Net sales in the U.S. were up 0.4%, and U.S. comps fell 0.7% (excluding fuel). Wal-Mart still hasn't proven that it can lure additional customer traffic into its U.S. Wal-Mart stores, which has forced the company to consider serious (and surprising) strategic shifts. Still, traffic has improved sequentially during each quarter this fiscal year.
With the holidays approaching, Wal-Mart's unleashing aggressive deals on shipping and cut-priced toys. The Bentonville Behemoth must not only deal with other discounters like Target
There's good reason for investors to run from beleaguered and inadequately differentiated retail stocks such as Bon-Ton
That said, Wal-Mart is a reliable stalwart that can weather differing economic environments. Several months ago, my Foolish colleague Jim Royal recommended buying Wal-Mart shares. The stock now trades at just 14 times earnings, a tad cheaper than Target and a lot cheaper than Costco. Is it time to buy Wal-Mart, despite its continued need to perk up U.S. sales? State your case in the comment boxes below.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.