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Walmart's US e-commerce growth rebounds, shares rise

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Walmart Inc, the world's biggest retailer, posted a rebound in its US e-commerce business on Thursday and beat profit and revenue expectations, lifting its shares in premarket trade.

[NEW YORK] Walmart Inc, the world's biggest retailer, posted a rebound in its US e-commerce business on Thursday and beat profit and revenue expectations, lifting its shares in premarket trade.

Walmart's e-commerce sales grew 33 per cent during the first quarter ended April 30, above the 23-per cent growth in the previous three months. The retailer said it is on track to increase US e-commerce sales by 40 per cent for the full year.

The e-commerce rebound comes after a sharp slowdown during the crucial holiday quarter, which sent its shares down over 10 per cent and wiped out US$31 billion from its market capitalization. Investors worried the retailer would not be able to keep pace with rival Amazon.com Inc.

"Online grocery continued to accelerate and we also have new brands in e-commerce including the partnership with Lord and Taylor, so there are a lot of different things driving growth there," Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said in an interview. He said the Walmart.com site redesign helped although it came late in the quarter. The retailer recently revamped its website and has said it will offer more premium products through a partnership with department store chain Lord & Taylor.

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Walmart also recently said it will acquire a 77-per cent stake in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart for US$16 billion, its largest deal ever, to compete with Amazon.com Inc in an important growth market. It also plans to sell a majority stake in its UK grocery chain Asda Group Ltd to J Sainsbury PLC. Excluding special items, adjusted earnings were US$1.14 per share. The average analyst estimate was US$1.12 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales at US stores open at least a year rose 2.1 per cent excluding fuel, in line with analyst forecasts, according to Consensus Metrix. Walmart has recorded nearly four straight years of US growth, unmatched by any other retailer.

Total revenue increased 4.4 per cent to US$122.7 billion, beating analysts' estimates of US$120.5 billion.

Walmart's shares were up 1.17 per cent at US$87.14 in premarket trade. The company's stock has fallen around 20 per cent since reaching an all-time high of US$109.98 in late January.

REUTERS