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Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) climbed 4.5% on Tuesday after the retail giant announced encouraging progress on its strategic initiatives, preliminary guidance for the coming fiscal year, and a big new share repurchase authorization.
More specifically, ahead of its annual investment community meeting today, Wal-Mart reiterated its guidance for fiscal 2018 GAAP earnings per share in the range of $4.18 to $4.28 and for adjusted (non-GAAP) earnings per share of $4.30 to $4.40. Wal-Mart also offered guidance for adjusted earnings per share in fiscal 2019 to climb roughly 5% year over year, equating to an approximate range of $4.52 to $4.62. In addition, Wal-Mart unveiled a new two-year, $20 billion share repurchase program to replace its existing authorization.
CFO Brett Biggs elaborated:
We feel good about where we are as a company. Our plans are designed to win with both customers and shareholders as we operate within our financial framework. Our financial position is strong, which allows us to invest in the business while returning significant cash to shareholders.
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Wal-Mart also called for revenue in fiscal 2019 to increase "at or above 3%" -- well above the 2.4% growth investors were expecting -- driven by a combination of positive comparable-store sales and roughly 40% growth in Wal-Mart U.S. e-commerce sales. While Wal-Mart plans to prioritize store remodels and digital innovation over new stores going forward, it also anticipates adding roughly 1,000 online grocery pickup locations in the United States by the end of next fiscal year.
As it stands, investors will need to wait until Wal-Mart next reports earnings in mid-November for more color on its progress. But between this preliminary fiscal 2019 outlook and the ambitious new share repurchase program -- and even with shares up more than 17% year to date before this pop -- it was no surprise to see Wal-Mart stock hit a fresh 52-week high today.
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