Emails: Wal-Mart February Sales "A Total Disaster"
“In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart's vice president of finance and logistics, said in a February 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
In the final hour of trade, the stock was down around three percent. According to minutes of a February 1 officers meeting, the company had anticipated a strong start to the month due to the Super Bowl, milder weather, and paycheck cycles. Instead, it would seem that a rise in the payroll tax may be causing a slowdown in consumer spending.
Another email obtained by Bloomberg from Cameron Geiger, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. Replenishment, underscores the company's disappointing January results. “Have you ever had one of those weeks where your best- prepared plans weren't good enough to accomplish everything you set out to do?” Geiger asked in a Feb. 1 e-mail to executives. “Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S. Where are all the customers? And where's their money?”
Along with payroll taxes, the executives attributed the weak performance to delayed tax returns. Data from Wal-Mart's Global Customer Insights and Analytics team, which was attached to Murray's email, showed that around $19.7 billion more in tax refunds were delivered by this time last year.
Speaking about the internal email leaks, Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said “As with any organization, we often see internal communications that are not entirely accurate, that lack the proper context and represent individual opinions." Investors have been lukewarm towards WMT in recent months. The stock is well above levels seen last Spring, but has been trending lower since hitting an all-time high in October 2012.
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