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Wal-Mart sees U.S. online sales soaring 40 percent in fiscal year 2019

From Reuters - October 10, 2017

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) on Tuesday forecast that U.S. online sales would soar about 40 percent in the fiscal year ending January 2019, sending its stock up nearly 4 percent to the highest in more than two years.

The retailing behemoth also said it will buy back $20 billion of its shares over the next two years.

The outlook came hours before the companys annual investor meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. The company also forecast overall net sales to rise by at least 3 percent in the same period

Wal-Mart, locked in a battle for market share with ecommerce group Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), has been doubling down on its online business and leveraging its 4,700-plus stores trying to create a more hassle-free experience for online shoppers.

With a steady rise in people buying online, Wal-Marts e-commerce sales growth has been outstripping brick-and-mortar.

It is clear that Wal-Mart intends to continue to turn the heat online, with 40 percent annual growth an impressive goal, especially on the heels of the 30 percent outlined at the 2016 investor meeting, which at the time seemed aspirational in our view, said Charlie OShea, Moodys lead retail analyst.

In August, the company said online sales in the United States had increased 60 percent in the latest quarter, but warned that current-quarter profit could miss Wall Street estimates as margins are being hurt by price-cutting and heavy spending on e-commerce.

Total revenue increased 2.1 percent to $123.4 billion in the latest quarter. Wal-Mart did not break out online sales.

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