Walmart: Fourth-quarter sales will be worse than we thought

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is warning investors that the company's Q4 numbers will come in worse than expected. The retailer on Friday morning lowered its fourth quarter and full-year profit expectations, saying that the numbers may hit even below the low-end of its prior forecasts.

The company is set to report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Feb. 20.

Walmart says it expects same-store sales to be slightly below its prior forecasts, too. The chain previously expected the key sales figure would be flat at Walmart stores and that it would be between flat and 2 percent at Sam's Club.

Walmart cited a few reasons for the fourth quarter sales slump. The November reductions to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, was "greater than we expected," noted CFO Charles Holley, in a company statement. The severe weather, including "eight named winter storms" during the quarter forced shoppers to stay home and stores to close. The winter storms affected Sam's Club as well, Holley said.

Walmart seemed to start off the holiday season strong. The company's Christmas ad was ranked as best among shoppers and Walmart clocked a record-breaking number of transactions on Thanksgiving Day, with more than 22 million customers served. Across the retail industry as a whole, holiday sales were in line with projections, according to the National Retail Federation.

A sign that Walmart had a rough fourth quarter came earlier this week when the company announced that it was eliminating 2,300 workers at its Sam's Club division. The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club's U.S. employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010.

For more:
-See this Walmart press release

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