Wal-Mart's first-quarter comparable sales beat estimates

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) has made its way to a 12-month gain of 26.27%.

The company said most of the internet sales growth was from existing online operations rather than from acquisitions.

"We're transforming to become more of a digital enterprise", said Doug McMillon, CEO and president of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Customer traffic at Wal-Mart also rose while other major retailers like Macy's and Target suffered declines. Even off-price retailer TJX Cos., which has done better than many as customers hunt for bargains, missed forecasts for that sales measure. He estimates that $45 billion to $60 billion in sales are up for grabs. Wal-Mart had warned in 2015 that stepped-up investments in stores and in its employees would hurt profits. The Walmart U.S. segment includes its mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart or Wal-Mart brands, as well as digital retail. It has retooled how it operates online and accelerated that shift by buying already successful online operators.

The results signal that Wal-Mart is getting a payoff from an ambitious online expansion, which included last year's $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com Inc. The retail giant acquired Jet.com last year and Moosejaw and Modcloth earlier this year.

But investors clearly liked what they heard from Walmart.

The company is still looking for startups to buy. Officials said the website now offers 50 million products for purchase, up from 10 million a year ago. After buying that business in September, he put co-founder Marc Lore in charge of USA e-commerce. "We remain confident in our strategy and are moving with speed to deliver value to our customers, associates and shareholders".

Target had quietly raised its free shipping threshold to $35 from $25 this month, going in the opposite direction of Wal-Mart and Amazon.

The Amazon Prime program costs $99 a year, but comes with services like streaming music and video. Energy companies also rose as the price of crude oil headed higher.

Executives warned analysts that the first quarter would likely be Target's weakest in 2017 since numerous investments it is rolling out to revive the business, such as remodeling stores and launching new private-label brands, would not impact sales until later months. But Lore and McMillon stressed most of the gains were "organic" and came from Walmart.com.

The company will also use stores as local distribution hubs - using the backroom storage areas to also house goods bought online directly to homes, or held there to be picked up by shoppers.

In its first quarter, consolidated net income attributable to Walmart dropped 1.3 percent to $3.04 billion from $3.08 billion previous year. Grocery is a key category because it drives shoppers frequently to the store and they are then likely to pick up other items. (WMT) reported Thursday lower net profit in its first quarter with weak global segment results. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.9 percent.

Target on Wednesday reported first-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.21 per share, above the Street view of 91 cents per share. Total revenue climbed 1.4 percent to $117.5 billion.

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