Winter freeze hits Walmart's profits

President Obama at a Walmart store (Source: Getty)

Walmart felt the chill of the US’s harsh winter, reporting a five per cent fall in net profits to $3.6bn (£2.2bn) in the first quarter.

The world’s biggest retailer also saw very moderate sales growth, up under one per cent to $114.2bn. Same-store sales fell 1.2 per cent.

Chief executive Doug McMillon stressed the cold weather as a reason for falling sales and higher operating expenses.

But Walmart’s shares have been under performing the S&P 500 for the last 18 months, and headwind from competitors are “still significant”, says Peter Garnry of Saxobank.

The market’s been pricing in low growth and margin pressure, but the store’s forecast for the current quarter is still disappointing. Profits in the second quarter from continuing operations will be between $1.15 and $1.25 per share, it said. Analysts had forecast $1.28 per share.

Walmart’s been working on growing its smaller, local-based offering, Neighborhood. Sales at those stores rose five per cent. 

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