Wal-Mart’s sales slowdown may end of best-of-dow run

NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s run as this year’s best-performing Dow Jones Industrial Average company may end after the world’s largest retailer said sales growth will slow this month.

By (Bloomberg)

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Published: Sat 9 Aug 2008, 11:38 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:51 AM

Wal-Mart declined 6.3 per cent yesterday, the steepest drop since 2002, after it said sales in stores open at least a year may rise as little as 1 per cent, which would be the smallest gain in five months. The company said most shoppers had spent the US tax rebates that spurred sales.

“The stock has risen a lot, and the probability is pretty low that it keeps growing at that rate,” Don Yacktman, who oversees $900 million at Yacktman Asset Management Company, said in an interview. The Austin, Texas-based firm sold 80,000 Wal-Mart shares, or half of its holding in that stock, since April.

Wal-Mart had climbed 28 per cent this year before yesterday, compared with the 30-company Dow’s 14 per cent drop. After yesterday’s decline, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart had a gain of 20 per cent, just ahead of International Business Machines Corporation’s 19 per cent increase.

Wal-Mart advanced 45 cents to $57.41 at 9:44am in New York Stock Exchange trading.

Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott and Eduardo Castro- Wright, the US stores chief, weren’t available for interviews before quarterly earnings August 14, Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said yesterday.

Spending of tax rebate checks, part of the government’s attempt to rejuvenate the economy, helped produce Wal-Mart’s biggest same-store sales gains of the year in May, with a 3.9 per cent increase, and June, with a 5.8 per cent jump.

Steep discounts: The company lured shoppers battered by soaring gasoline and food costs with $4 prescriptions and discounts on groceries and flat-screen televisions as steep as 30 per cent.

Total sales in the first half of the fiscal year that started February 1 climbed 9.6 per cent. Total sales in July increased 9.4 per cent.

“We are seeing the end of a catalyst,” Lauri Brunner, a Minneapolis-based analyst for Thrivent Asset Management, said yesterday in a Bloomberg Radio interview. Thrivent manages $73.2 billion in assets, with 1.5 million Wal-Mart shares through June.

“August represents even further deceleration,” Mark Miller, an analyst with William Blair & Company, wrote yesterday in a note to clients. Wal-Mart’s forecast of same-store sales growth of 1 per cent to 2 per cent this month trails his third-quarter estimate of 2.5 per cent.

Miller cut Wal-Mart to “market perform” from “outperform” yesterday on the view that the retailer’s sales and profit growth will slow.

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