Walmart: The World’s Best-Run Retailer

Wow. Walmart’s new earnings report crushed expectations. This is while other retailers, like Target, suffered. (Target did have some image problems). Walmart is not just America’s biggest retailer. It is also the best run. (These companies control more than half of their industries.)

Walmart’s revenue was $162 billion (up 6% from the same quarter a year ago), compared to expectations of $160 billion. Earnings totaled $1.88 per share, compared to expectations of $1.62. E-commerce rose 24%, which is Amazon-like. If any company has given Amazon a run for its money, it is Walmart.

In the United States, the measure most investors look at, same-store sales, rose 6.4%.

CEO Doug McMillon commented: “We had another strong quarter. Around the world, our customers and members are prioritizing value and convenience. They’re shopping with us across channels.” Mark that down as an understatement.

Walmart’s earnings may point to one of two things, and perhaps both. Because Walmart says it has locations within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, it could be a proxy for a strong consumer economy. Or, Walmart could simply be better run. Either way, the company has tailwinds headed into the critical year-end season.

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Walmart did not even exist in 1962. J.C. Penney and Sears dominated the retail landscape in the United States. Both of the companies are gone, or nearly so. Neither could adapt to the Walmart big-box retailer strategy, which was driven by huge stores, based on square footage, and remarkably low prices, driven by expert inventory acquisition and the willingness to accept low margins.

Walmart has had competition, but none has come close to challenging it. In particular, Target and Costco have made runs. Walmart’s armor was not dented by either.

Amazon hurt Walmart with its early e-commerce lead, which it still has. But Walmart is on its way to challenging even America’s largest online retailer.

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