After guiding lower at the end of January, Wal-Mart reported earnings of $1.60, roughly in-line with consensus of $1.59. Comparable store sales declined 0.4 percent for the year ending in January, about as expected.
But it was the company’s 2015 guidance of $5.10-$5.45, well below consensus of $5.54, that is the major concern. Adding to the grief, the retail giant expects sales to be toward the low end of the 3 to 5 percent guidance they had previously given.
What’s the issue? A better question would be what isn’t the issue. Wal-Mart cited several problems affecting their customers: reductions in government benefits, higher taxes, tighter credit, and “higher group health care costs.”
Where’s the growth? They’re going to open 115 new superstores, but they seem to be placing a big bet on small store formats. They say they will open 270 to 300 small format units in 2014, double the amount they have now.
1) China’s Flash manufacturing numbers were a disappointment, falling below 50 for the second month in a row.
2) What’s up with the big-cap financials? Goldman Sachs,Morgan Stanley, Citigroup all down 7 to 8 percent in 2014. JPMorgan Chase is doing better but also down 2.2 percent. With the S&P 500 down only one percent, the under-performance is being noted.
Traders cite several issues continuing to weigh on the larger banks: weaker mortgage business, sluggish capital markets, and a “flattish” net interest margin, which makes it tougher for banks to make money on the difference between what they pay on deposits and what they charge in interest for loans.
—By CNBC’s Bob Pisani