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Walmart beat US sales estimates for its fourth quarter and accelerated ecommerce growth, as it reduced prices and invested heavily in its online operations.

US comparable sales increased 1.8 per cent, faster growth than its guidance of between 1-1.5 per cent, and faster than its third-quarter pace of 1.2 per cent. Ecommerce sales surged 29 per cent, quicker than its third quarter pace of 20.6 per cent.

The market reacted positively to the numbers, with shares rising 2.6 per cent in pre-market trading in New York.

Fourth-quarter earnings, adjusted for extraordinary items, came in at $1.30 a share, slightly ahead of consensus market estimates for EPS of $1.29. Revenue for the quarter, Revenue increased 1 per cent to $130.9bn, shy of analyst estimates for $131.16bn.

The world’s largest retailer by sales also reported full-year profit at the high end of its guidance. It said earnings were $4.32 a share, excluding exceptional items, compared with its estimates for adjusted EPS of between $4.20 to $4.35.

Walmart has been investing heavily both in ecommerce and in pushing down prices amid stiff competition across both online platforms and at physical stores. Ecommerce growth was given a leg up by its acquisition of Jet.com, which is in an early growth phase, the biggest of recent bolt-on acquisitions it has made in ecommerce to better fight against Amazon.

“We’re moving with speed to become more of a digital enterprise and better serve customers,” chief executive Doug McMillon said in a statement.

The company expects EPS for this fiscal year to come in at between $4.20-$4.40.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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