Walmart’s Market Cap Jumps to All-Time High After Stellar Earnings

The retail giant posted $161 billion in quarterly revenue, marking a 6% increase and beating its earlier sales target.

Photo of a Walmart store sign
Photo by Mike Mozart via CC BY-SA 3.0

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Now that’s what you’d call the Sam Walton Way. 

On Thursday, Walmart reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, pushing its market cap to an all-time high of more than $500 billion. Walmart handily outsells Amazon, for anyone keeping score at home. So just how, exactly, does the behemoth box store chain Walton founded in 1962 keep on finding ways to grow? 

Brick in the Walmart

Walmart sets a high standard for itself every year. The company set a sales growth target for the year at 4%, which, given its massive size, would require it to find $26 billion in new sales. For the three months ended April 30, Walmart showed it’s right on track — and then some: The retail giant posted $161 billion in revenue, marking a 6% increase, while posting a profit of $5.1 billion.

It’s the result, in part, of several strategies to diversify its business and revenue streams outside of traditional retail. In an interview with CNBC, CFO John David Rainey said new businesses contributed to one-third of operating income growth. That includes its advertising business, which grew another 24% in the first quarter of the year after generating $3.4 billion in ad sales last year. Meanwhile, the firm pointed in its earnings call to the growth of its membership subscription service Walmart+, a sort of copycat program of Amazon Prime (though it didn’t report specific figures on total subscribers or revenue).

If it all sounds like the big-box retailer is on a collision course with its one true rival, Amazon, that’s because it is. And Thursday’s earnings made the current state of the battle for retail supremacy even more clear: 

  • Walmart’s e-commerce business —which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, and has steadily evolved toward an Amazon-esque platform for third-party sellers — grew another 22% in the first quarter, marking eight straight frames of double-digit growth.
  • Walmart says the number of US third-party sellers grew 38% in the quarter, while Mexico saw a 50% increase (the marketplace is only available in the US, Mexico, and Canada). Meanwhile, the company said online delivery orders surpassed in-store pickup for the first time this quarter.

Closing Time: Walmart’s shares closed up nearly 7% on Thursday, and are up some 20% in 2024. But the retail titan didn’t get through this week without hitting a few speed bumps. On Tuesday, the company announced it would lay off hundreds of employees in its corporate offices, and relocate many more from remote work or satellite offices to its headquarters in Arkansas. And the company disclosed plans last month to close all 51 of the healthcare clinics it opened after entering the space in 2019, saying the business wasn’t financially viable. Seems like health does not make wealth, in this instance.