How did Walmart perform during the pandemic?

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Two years ago, few people would probably have predicted the course of Walmart‘s (NYSE: WMT) Stock. At that time, the company had strengthened its omnichannel presence to better compete Amazon(NASDAQ: AMZN), Costco(NASDAQ: COT), and other peers.

However, closures related to COVID-19 have brought unexpected benefits to the company. In addition to having the infrastructure to handle online orders and pickups, it has reaped additional benefits from the demand for consumer staples and the closures of many smaller competitors. Now, in a post-containment world, can prosperity continue?

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How have Walmart stocks performed over the past two years?

Walmart stock has returned nearly 17% over the past two years. He won all of these wins between March and November 2020.

When the pandemic started and companies around the world were put on hold, Walmart stayed open in most places. Sales increased as Walmart was able to meet basic needs while serving online and omnichannel customers who weren’t comfortable walking into a store.

Yet as companies learned to adapt to the pandemic and vaccinations increased, purchasing habits began to more closely resemble pre-pandemic behavior, and the course of action began. to trade in a range. Since August 2020, the stock has risen by less than 8%.

In addition, Walmart has fallen behind S&P 500 total return, which has jumped by around 50% over the past two years. While it can be argued that Walmart is as safe as it gets, the only time Walmart outperformed the total market was during the peak of lockdowns.

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A Sneak Peek of Walmart Today

The company’s financial data may have contributed to the stock’s relative underperformance. In the first nine months of fiscal 2022, revenue of $ 416 billion increased 3% compared to the same period of fiscal 2021. However, net profit fell 35% to a little over $ 10 billion during this period. Net losses on the change in value of equity investments and a loss on the sale of Walmart Argentina weighed on results.

It also drastically reduced free cash flow. Free cash flow for the first nine months of fiscal 2022 was just $ 7.7 billion, less than half of the $ 16.4 billion generated in the same period last year .

Nonetheless, the overall results reflect a slowdown from fiscal 2021, when revenues jumped 7% and the bottom line, hampered by rising costs and income taxes, declined 10%.

But in the midst of this sluggishness, the company continues to project optimism. The company expected a 6% gain in same-store sales in fiscal 2022. It also raised its profit forecast, raising its forecast to $ 6.40 per share, from $ 6.20 per share and 6.35 $ per share previously.

However, the shortfall may have increased the price-to-earnings ratio. This comes to 49, which is more than Costco’s multiple of 47 profit and TargetP / E ratio of 16. Still, its price-to-sales ratio of 0.7 is well below Costco and Target, whose sales multiples exceed one.

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Should you consider Walmart stocks?

Growth in Walmart shares could easily continue. Historically, the stock has tracked the total returns of the S&P 500. Nonetheless, over the past two years, Walmart has underperformed the indices except at the height of the lockdowns.

Considering Walmart’s lower P / S ratio, it could increase in the short term. Nonetheless, while it will likely increase, retail stock is likely to be below total market performance.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of the board of directors of The Motley Fool. Will Healy has no position in the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Amazon and Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: $ 1,920 long calls in January 2022 on Amazon and $ 1,940 short calls in January 2022 on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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