Walmart Q2 earnings soar as Delta variant fails to curb traffic, grocery spending boom

Walmart (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, reported better-than-expected second-quarter revenue and sales results, driven by store traffic and stimulus check spending that bolstered its footprint in grocery sales in the face of surging COVID-19 infections nationwide.

Here are the results versus the estimates, according to Bloomberg:

  • Adjusted EPS: $1.78 v. $1.57 estimate

  • Revenue: $141 billion v. $136.88 billion

  • Walmart U.S. comp-store sales (excluding gas): 5.2% v. 3.12% estimate

  • Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales: 6%

For the quarter, closely-followed same-store sales came in at 5.2%, compared to forecasts of growth of 3.12%. On a two-year stack, the U.S. comp sales grew 14.5%.

Walmart noted that the better-than-expected comp sales reflect “strong underlying business trends, a robust U.S. economy and stimulus spending.” The retailer added that comp sales gains increased each month in the quarter, with the strongest sales posted in July.

However, online sales grew at a slower pace during the second quarter compared to the first quarter, climbing 6%. On a two-year stack, e-commerce sales were up 103%. In a statement, CEO Doug McMillon pointed out that global e-commerce sales are “on track to reach $75 billion by the end of the year.”

He added: “We grew market share in U.S. grocery, added thousands of new sellers to our marketplace, rapidly grew advertising businesses around the world, and we’re finding innovative ways to commercialize our data and build technology. We have a unique ecosystem of products and services designed to serve customers in broader, deeper ways, and we’re grateful to our associates for making it all happen.”

‘Broad-based strength’

In terms of merchandise, the retail giant’s rapidly expanding grocery category in the U.S. grew mid-single-digits in the quarter, with food categories showing “broad-based strength,” Walmart noted, with consumer items benefited from “strong price positioning, elevated fresh offering and better in-stocks.” Shoppers also flocked to the pets, beauty, and baby products consumables in the quarter.

Meanwhile, health and wellness comps jumped by mid-double-digits, with Vision Centers open, vaccines, and branded drug inflation. However, the general merchandise category grew in the low single-digits, “lapping last year’s stimulus-driven growth.” 

Although the surge in COVID-19 infections — driven by the Delta variant— have raised fears about the in-person schooling and return to office, apparel and travel-related categories also gained, as shoppers resumed socializing. Separately, the auto category benefited with the Auto Care Centers being open. 

Walmart CFO Brett Biggs also told Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi on Tuesday that “back to school [shopping] is off to a strong start.” As for the COVID-19 Delta variant, Biggs said the retailer is “not seeing a major shift in consumer behaviors at this point.”

A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago September 21, 2011. The 27,000 square foot (2508 square meters) store is the first in Illinois with an emphasis on groceries and basic household goods. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES – Tags: FOOD BUSINESS)

The retailer raised its full-year guidance, forecasting U.S. comp sales growth of 5% to 6%, also ahead of analysts’ expectations of 3.22%, according to Bloomberg data.

Shares of Walmart were last trading 0.11% lower, down 17 cents, near $150.58 in the pre-market, after closing over 1% higher on Monday. 

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit