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Walmart Stock Soars After Blasting Q3 Earnings, Improving 2023 Profit Forecast

"Walmart U.S. continued to gain market share in grocery ... and significantly improved out inventory position,' said CEO Doug McMillon

Updated at 12:19 pm EST

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Free Report posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Tuesday, while trimming its expected profit decline for final months of the year, as the world's biggest retailer continued to benefit from a shift in value-focused spending from American consumers.

Walmart said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in October came in at $1.50 per share, up 3.4% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.32 per share.

Group revenues, the company said, were tabbed at $152.8 billion, an 8.7% increase from last year that firmly topped analysts' estimates of $147.75 billion. U.S. same-store sales rose 8.2% from last year, the company said, firmly topping the Refinitiv forecast of 4.6%. Inventories, which were up 25% from last year at the end of the second quarter, narrowed to a 12.7% gain over the three months ending in October.

Looking into the final months of the year, Walmart said it sees adjusted earnings declining by between 6% and 7% from 2021 levels, an improvement from its prior forecast of a slump of between 9% and 11% and its July estimate of a 12.5% decline.

Walmart also said it would buyback $20 billion in stock in a program that will replace a smaller buyback unveiled in February of last year.

“We had a good quarter with strong top-line growth globally led by Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S., along with Flipkart and Walmex. Walmart U.S. continued to gain market share in grocery, helped by unit growth in our food business,: said CEO Doug McMillon. "We significantly improved our inventory position in Q3, and we’ll continue to make progress as we end the year."

"From The Big Billion Days in India, through our Deals for Days events in the U.S. and a Thanksgiving meal that will cost the same as last year, we’re here to help make this an affordable and special time for families around the world," he added. "We have an amazing group of associates that make all this happen, and I want to say thank you."  

Walmart shares were marked 7.15% higher in early afternoon trading following the earnings release to change hands at $148.32 each, a move that would nudge the stock into positive territory for the year.

D.A. Davidson analyst Michael Baker said the group's earnings "ticked all the major boxes including a surprisingly large beat in the quarter, 4th quarter guidance that is at least in line with consensus if not a bit better on the important line items, and perhaps most impressively, a significant improvement in their inventory position."

"Walmart’s stock has been an outperformer year to date as a perceived safe haven and we expect that to continue on the back of this print," added Baker, who carries a $163 price target on Walmart shares.   

The retailer also unveiled details of its $3.1 billion with state, local and tribal governments linked to its role in the U.S. opioid crisis. 

"Walmart believes the settlement framework is in the best interest of all parties and will provide significant aid to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments faster than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date, subject to satisfying all settlement requirements," the company said.