In an unending daily scenario of job cuts and and huge quarterly loses among other retailer, the largets retailer in the world, Wal-Mart, has created 33,000 new jobs in the US, another 30,000 outside, exceeded its sales targets by 2.8 per cent and raised dividend payout to share holders.
US supermarket giant Wal-Mart's February same store sales, excluding fuel, increased by 2.8 per cent, while its Sam's Club sales jumped 5.9 per cent, allying fears of an extended slowdown in the American consumer spending.
Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key measure of retailer performance because they measure growth at existing stores rather than from newly opened ones.
Net sales companywide for the four weeks of February was $30.01 billion, up 2.8 per cent over the same period in 2008, as a strong performance from Wal-Mart US offset a 10.28-per cent decline in international revenues caused by currency movements. Net sales at Wal-Mart stores in the US during February were up an impressive 8.1 per cent.
February's results were driven by the grocery, entertainment and health and wellness segments.
''This shows the recession failed to dent demand for essential goods such as food and household products'', a company release said.
"We believe falling gas prices significantly boosted household disposable income in February and therefore allowed for both more trips and more spending towards discretionary categories," Wal-Mart vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said.
"Our customers have come to trust our 'Save Money, Live Better' promise and we exceeded our own expectations for the period," said Castro-Wright.
The company also declared an increase in the annual dividend for FY2010 to $1.09 per share, a 15 per cent increase from the $0.95 per share paid during FY2009. Wal-Mart has increased its dividend every year since its first declared dividend of $0.05 per share in March 1974.
The increase comes as a wide range of US companies have slashed their payouts to preserve cash during the global economic downturn.
''Our free cash flow remains strong enough to fund Wal-Mart's growth around the world, make strategic acquisitions and fund returns to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,'' he added.
Earlier, riding high on strong fourth quarter sales of $109.12 billion, Wal-Mart reported net sales of $401.24 billion annual sales for FY2008, up 7.2 per cent from FY2007. Wal-Mart's overall profits for the year touched $13.4 billion.
''Our performance relative to competitors was exceptionally strong in the fourth quarter and throughout the year,'' Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke said in a statement. ''We expect this momentum to continue,'' he added.
''The business model that Sam Walton (company's founder) created is perfectly positioned for the environment we live in now,'' Duke said, referring to the current global financial meltdown. ''I do believe this is Wal-Mart's time,'' he added.
The world's largest retailer is also the world's largest corporation in terms of annual sales.
To put the sales numbers achieved by Wal-Mart in proper perspective, the company sold merchandise worth $1.1 billion every day.
The company expects reported EPS to be between $0.72 and $0.77 for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, and between $3.45 and $3.60 for the full year.
Wal-Mart operates Walmart discount stores, supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club locations in the US. The company also operates in several countries across the globe.
Wal-Mart, which employs over 1.4 million associates in the US and over 0.68 million outside, created around 63,000 jobs worldwide this year, including over 33,000 in the US.