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Here’s what you need to know about Wal-Mart earnings

Wal-Mart is set to report first-quarter earnings before the bell on Thursday.

Here’s what the Street is expecting:

  • Earnings per share: 96 cents, according to Thomson Reuters analysts’ consensus estimates.
  • Revenue: $117.74 billion, analysts said.
  • Same-store sales: 1.3 percent growth, according to FactSet.

Back in February, Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores had their best quarter in more than four years, as the company reported its 10th consecutive period of overall comparable sales growth.

Wal-Mart’s online sales have also been making gains, driven largely by the retailer’s recent acquisition of, its competitive free-shipping threshold and lower prices.

For fiscal 2018, Wal-Mart has said it expects to earn between $4.20 and $4.40 a share.

Sales started the year slower than expected, due in part to a delay in tax refunds, Wal-Mart CFO Brett Biggs said, while the company’s gross margin shrank slightly because of heightened markdowns after the holidays.

“Overall, [Wal-Mart’s] investments have resulted in positive comparable store sales trends and improving traffic,” Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan wrote in a note to clients prior to Thursday’s earnings. “Walmart’s success, along with broadly weakening brick and mortar shopping trends, has caused competing retailers to respond with their own pricing actions.”

On Wednesday, big-box retail rival Target reported earnings, sales and comparable sales that topped Street expectations. Target is in the midst of a multiyear turnaround effort, as it attempts to compete with Wal-Mart’s “Everyday Low Price” strategy and Amazon‘s encroaching presence over the industry.

“While [Target] is not trying to directly undercut Walmart on prices, it is trying to use everyday lower prices on daily use items to drive customers into remodeled stores that provide a better experience than Walmart,” Astrachan said.

As of Wednesday’s close, shares of Wal-Mart have climbed nearly 19 percent over the past 12 months and are up about 9 percent for the year-to-date period.

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