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Walmart touts online sales growth amid Amazon ecommerce battle

Thomas Barrabi

Walmart on Tuesday touted major growth projections for its online sales division in the upcoming fiscal year, as the Arkansas-based retailer battles with ecommerce giant Amazon for market share in the competitive sector.

In projections released before its annual investor day, the company said it expects U.S. online sales to increase by about 40% in fiscal 2019. In addition, Walmart said it would open less than 25 new brick-and-mortar store locations in fiscal 2019 while investing in expanded ecommerce infrastructure, including more online grocery pickup locations.

Walmart shares rose more than 5% to more than $84 in trading Tuesday. The stock surge marked the company’s largest single-day percentage increase since May 2016.

“We have good momentum in the business, we’re executing our strategy and moving with speed to win with the customer, who is more connected than ever and embracing tools that will save them both time and money,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We’re combining the accessibility of our stores with ecommerce to provide new and exciting ways for customers to shop.”

Aside from its online sales projections, Walmart reiterated its net sales guidance of at least 3% over the same period, with adjusted earnings per share of between $4.30 and $4.40. The company also announced plans to buy back $20 billion of its shares within the next two years.

Walmart has emphasized ecommerce growth in recent years amid a challenging brick-and-mortar retail environment and stiff competition from Amazon and other digital retailers. The company spent more than $3 billion to acquire online retailer Jet.com in 2016 and has focused on building out its online grocery business. 

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