Bentonville, Ark. - Wal-Mart said increased productivity and improved inventory management led to single-digit sales and earnings gains for its fiscal third quarter, ended Oct. 31.
Net income rose 3.1 percent to nearly $3.4 billion, exceeding Wal-Mart and Wall Street projections, and net sales edged up 1.1 percent year over year to $98.7 billion. Including the positive impact of currency fluctuations, net sales rose 3.8 percent.
In the U.S., net sales at the company's flagship Walmart stores rose 1.2 percent to $61.8 billion and same-store sales slipped 0.5 percent, while operating income increased 6.9 percent due to efficient inventory management and productivity initiatives. Traffic and market share increased during the quarter, although same-store sales were below expectations, the company said.
At Sam's Club, net sales slipped 0.7 percent to $11.5 billion while same-store sales were essentially flat. The warehouse club division also improved operating profits and expense management, the retailer reported.
Looking ahead, the company is projecting flat same-store sales at Walmart for the current quarter, compared with a 2.4 percent increase last year.
Separately, Wal-Mart said its U.S. Walmart stores have developed specific crowd control plans to prevent a repeat of last year's Black Friday trampling death in New York.
The plans, developed with safety experts from the sports and entertainment industries, address traffic flow from customer approach and store entry to check-out and exit.
In addition, all stores will be open for 24 hours for post-Thanksgiving Day sales events, with Black Friday doorbusters available beginning at 5 a.m., although most Walmart Supercenter locations are regularly open around the clock.
Elsewhere, Walmart announced its second one-week, pre-Thanksgiving CE sales event. Beginning Saturday Nov. 14, shoppers will receive a $100 Walmart gift card with the purchase of a BlackBerry device and a two-year subscription with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless.