NEW YORK (
) -- Retail behemoth
reported its fifth consecutive monthly decline in U.S. same-store sales, leaving investors asking, when will sales receive a reprieve?
The No. 1 retailer is currently forecasting U.S. sales to fall between a 2% decline and 1% increase in its third quarter. But how Wal-Mart facilitates this turnaround will rely heavily on new CEO Bill Simon, who took the reigns in June, replacing Eduardo-Castro Wright. Investors will be interested to see how Simon plans to regain sales momentum.
So far the discount giant has made several steps in trying to turn sales, none of which have seemed to work thus far. It introduced a series of rollback price cuts in categories like groceries to entice shoppers, but those were unsuccessful at boosting traffic.
Now, Wal-Mart is in the process of restocking some merchandise it previously removed from shelves during its Project Impact store renovations.
Wal-Mart is also searching for a new chief merchandising officer, after John Fleming stepped down following the appointment of Simon. Wal-Mart has specifically struggled with its apparel segment, choosing to focus on basics, which makes the search for a CMO especially vital.
During the second quarter Wal-Mart earned $3.6 billion, or 97 cents a share, a 3.6% increase from $3.47 billion, or 89 cents, in the year-ago period.
Total revenue rose 2.8% to $103.73 billion, but this fell below analysts' expectations of $105.33 billion. Wal-Mart's U.S. same-store sales dropped 1.8%, at the low range of forecasts.
Wal-Mart is intently focused on curbing expenses. Management believes expense leverage will be enough to drive earnings going forward and upped its full-year forecast to $3.95 to $4.05 a share.
There's no doubt rival
has been stealing market share from the retail behemoth, specifically in discretionary categories, as it has seen its same-store sales increase month over month.
For the all-important back-to-school selling period, Target seems better poised than Wal-Mart to capture shoppers, touting exclusive deals in apparel. "Strength in grocery (due in part to P-Fresh), consumables and health and beauty products continued in the second quarter, but outperformance in apparel categories (mainly due to a modest recovery, and Target's solid relationship with designer labels), and sequential improvement in home categories will be the key drivers to gross profit dollar growth," Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser wrote in a note.
Target's credit card division and 5% discount program will also be a focus.
Target will report its second-quarter results on Wednesday, and analysts are looking for a profit of 92 cents a share.
Given all of this, when do you think Wal-Mart's sales will make a turn for the better?
Take our poll below, and see what
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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