business news in context, analysis with attitude

Walmart said yesterday that its Q3 revenue was up 4.2 percent from the same period a year ago, to $123.18 billion, with profit that was down to $1.75 billion from $3 billion a year ago. (The company said profit was down because it paid down debt and settled a bribery probe.)

US same-store sales were up 2.7 percent, way above the 1.8 percent expected by analysts; Walmart said it reflected a 1.5 percent increase in store traffic.

In addition, Walmart said that its Q3 e-commerce sales were up 50 percent compared to the same period a year ago. During the second quarter, e-commerce sales were up 60 percent.

Walmart is saying that it expects e-commerce sales across its various online brands to reach $17.5 billion this year - a lot of money, but still a small fraction of its total annual sales. And, to keep it in context, projections are that Walmart will capture about 3.6 percent of all US e-commerce sales this year, up from 2.8 percent last year.

Online rival Amazon is expected to generate as much as 44 percent of total US e-commerce sales in 2017.
KC's View:
Clearly Walmart is making a lot of right moves - running right at Amazon in a lot of ways, looking to leverage its stores, broadening its appeal through the acquisition of other, non-core banners, and proving itself to be nimble in ways that I, for one, am finding to be somewhat surprising.

There remain a lot of questions to be answered, raised by decisions like the one to charge more online than in-store. And it is interesting to watch Walmart invest in non-core businesses at a time when a lot of companies are divesting them.

But this certainly is shaping up to be a race. Or maybe heavyweight fight is the better metaphor.