Top line troubles continue for Walmart
Walmart managed to achieve its third-quarter profit target despite reporting weaker than expected U.S. sales, which prompted the company to issue a tepid outlook for fourth-quarter sales at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Club units.
The company said same stores sales during the quarter ended October 31 declined 0.3% at U.S. stores compared to a 1.5% increase the prior year while Sam’s Club mustered a 1.1% comp increase compared to a 2.7% increase last year. Through three quarters of the year, Walmart U.S. comps are down 0.7% and Sam’s Club is up 1%. Total Walmart U.S. sales increased 2.4% to $67.7 billion while Sam’s Club sales increased 1.1% to slightly more than $14 billion. Walmart International sales, including the negative effects of currency exchange, increased 0.2% to $33.1 billion. Total company sales advanced 1.6% to $114.9 billion. Without a $1.6 billion negative impact from currency exchange, total sales would have increased 2.7% to $116.2 billion.
Despite the weak top line showing, Walmart managed to generate profits that were a penny better than analysts forecast and within previously provided guidance. Net income increased 2.8% to $3.7 billion while earnings per share increased 6.5% to $1.14 compared to $1.07 last year.
Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., characterized the profit performance as, “solid,” while emphasizing the need to grow top line sales.
“Walmart delivered solid earnings growth that was within our guidance range. We had strong operating income across our segments, with Walmart U.S. growing almost 6%, Sam’s Club increasing more than 9%, and International up 8% on a constant currency basis," Duke said. “Our most important priority is growing top line sales, including comp sales. The retail environment, both in stores and online, remains competitive. Walmart has aggressive plans to help our customers enjoy the holiday season, and there is no doubt that we plan to win for our customers and shareholders throughout the holidays."
Walmart’s winning plan for the holidays involves expectations of flat same store sales at Walmart U.S. stores and comps at Sam’s that are flat to up 2%. In terms of profit, Walmart’s fourth quarter forecast envision earnings per share in the range of $1.50 to $1.60, including a 10 cent a share negative impact related to the closure of 50 stores in Brazil and China and the severing of a joint venture relationship in India.
"We managed our business well and delivered solid returns to shareholders," Walmart CFO Charles Holley said of the third quarter.
During the quarter, the company repurchased approximately 23 million shares for $1.7 billion and made dividend payments totaling $1.5 billion.
The company ended the quarter with 11,069 stores operating under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce sites in 10 countries.
Shrank’s new role at CVS Caremark will be critical in new age of health care
CVS Caremark has announced the appointment of William Shrank as chief scientific officer and chief medical officer, provider innovation and analytics. In this role, Shrank will oversee the company’s overall research and clinical program development.
Why is this so important? Well, he’s a physician having previously practiced with Brigham Internal Medicine Associates. He also served as assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and served as director, research and rapid-cycle evaluation for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And what’s especially interesting to note — as highlighted by CVS Caremark — is that Shrank is “experienced in pharmaceutical outcomes research.”
This will be a critical position in the new age of health care where providers need to measure outcomes to get paid.
When referring to his new role at CVS Caremark, Shrank said he looks forward to expanding the company’s focus on medication adherence research and “uncovering new learnings to help our clients improve outcomes while managing cost."
CVS Caremark has aggressively positioned itself along the front lines of health care to help lower costs and improve patient outcomes. The appointment of Shrank is the latest example of that effort — and expect to see more.
The Monday Campaigns aims to stomp out smoking
NEW YORK — The Great American Smokeout, which rallies smokers to kick the habit, will mark its 38th year on Nov. 21, and the Monday Campaigns aims to build on the event with the introduction of Quit and Stay Quit Monday.
According to the American Cancer Society, which organizes the Smokeout, smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in the United States. And while almost 70% of smokers want to quit, the average attempt at quitting lasts only eight days; only 5% of smokers will quit in a given year.
Quit and Stay Quit Monday gives individuals 52 chances a year to quit for good. They’ll also have the opportunity to access information on such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to help stay in touch with others who are trying to quit.
"We help individuals, organizations and groups leverage Monday, the start of the week, to keep moving in the right direction," Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of the Monday Campaigns, said. "Our surveys and other research indicate there are weekly rhythms that seem to drive people’s behaviors — Monday is a built-in reset on our calendar that provides a recurring opportunity for a fresh start when people are ‘ready to buy’ into health and most likely to benefit from external support."
The Monday Campaigns is a nonprofit organization in association with Johns Hopkins and Columbia and Syracuse universities. They aim to create a movement of both individuals and organizations that band together to commit to healthy behaviors that can help end preventable chronic diseases.