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Walmart share price: what to expect from Q4 earnings

Walmart reports full-year and fourth quarter (Q4) earnings on Thursday 17 February.

What’s happening?

Walmart's fourth quarter (Q4) numbers come before the US markets open. The chart is active all-sessions on the IG platform so can be traded when the numbers are released.

Background

Walmart is one of the biggest retailers in the world and has a substantial presence both on Main Street and online.

During the year Walmart has had to respond to the difficulties presented by the government’s reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company has, mostly, benefited as consumers spent more on goods and less on services and, of those goods purchased, much of the business went online.

Pre-Covid-19 pandemic Walmart’s online offering was already strong and the company was able to shift further into the online business with little or no extra effort. The only issue was finding truck drivers available to deliver to fulfil demand. To ensure that happened, it meant that higher rates of pay were offered which has cut into the bottom line. Now, with economies opening up again, shoppers are returning to stores.

This has presented bricks and mortar retailers with another problem, an increase in staff illness as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads freely amongst communities, leaving shopfloors without sufficient numbers of staff.

Watch for year-over-year (YoY) anomalies

The biggest change for Walmart, YoY, is that during 2021 it sold its operations in the UK, Japan and Argentina. BusinessInsider says that this has resulted in an 11% drop in net sales. This means that it will be more important than usual to look for adjusted numbers, for group sales and inventory levels, so that any comparisons are properly made.

Watch out, too, for the degree of disruption to supply chains. This has the effect of raising costs and one way for a retailer to mitigate these costs is to raise inventory. Another aspect to consider.

Earnings expectations

Analysts are forecasting Q4 earnings per share (EPS) of $1.49, on revenues of $150.9 billion, that is according to a Zacks consensus estimate.

So far as the potential for a surprise, a Nasdaq market report points out that, over the last four quarters, Walmart has beaten consensus EPS estimates three times. For the quarter three (Q3) of 2021, it was expected that Walmart would post earnings of $1.39 per share when it produced earnings of $1.45, delivering a surprise of +4.32%. So if this is repeated it may be an opportunity for traders to position for a potential upside market reaction.

Trading the Walmart chart

In this long-term weekly chart, Chart 1, it can clearly be seen, the rise in Walmart stock since the turn of the century. The recent highs (an all-time record high for the stock) at $156.87, represented a climb of 54% from the Covid-19 pandemic lows, highlighted on the chart in the ellipse at $101.37.

In this context, many may say that the recent consolidation in the stock is no surprise.

This daily chart, Chart 2, shows a red highlighted box which is acting as a supporting line for the shares of Walmart.

The box began life as a record high in April 2020 as it became obvious that an online presence was going to be critical in those early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. With people around the world being locked down and, in the US at least, Walmart was seen as one of the only serious competitors to Amazon’s online model.

That initial line of resistance then became support and now forms a line in the sand worth considering as a potential pivot point for traders.

If you believe in the potential for Walmart to deliver another upside surprise, then you may be tempted into a long position on the stock chart and your stop-loss would go just below that box support at around $133.00. That support line was tested by that spike low from the hammer candle on 28 January this year.

However, the bottom line earnings are only part of the story. The company may well surprise, but the outlook will be critical. If there is any hint of a reduced outlook, for any one of a number of reasons, then the stock could drop below that area of support, falling to the March 2021 lows. If this is your belief then a short position may be the best bet with a stop-loss just over the $140.00 area.

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Australia Pty Ltd. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients.

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