As Walmart becomes a lifeline, online sales surged 74%

  • FILE - In this Saturday, April 4, 2020 file photo, information signs are posted in front of an entrance at a Walmart store in Vernon Hills, Ill. On Friday, April 10, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, Walmart is adopting a staggered shopping schedule based on age. Walmart is offering special hours for seniors but has not designated times for people to shop by age group.

    FILE - In this Saturday, April 4, 2020 file photo, information signs are posted in front of an entrance at a Walmart store in Vernon Hills, Ill. On Friday, April 10, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, Walmart is adopting a staggered shopping schedule based on age. Walmart is offering special hours for seniors but has not designated times for people to shop by age group. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sunday, April 5, 2020 file photo, Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami. On Friday, April 10, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, Walmart is adopting a staggered shopping schedule based on age. Walmart is offering special hours for seniors but has not designated times for people to shop by age group. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 5, 2020 file photo, Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami. On Friday, April 10, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, Walmart is adopting a staggered shopping schedule based on age. Walmart is offering special hours for seniors but has not designated times for people to shop by age group. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP) Associated Press

  • Workers sanitize items outside a Walmart that has been closed following the deaths of three people connected to the store after being infected by the new coronavirus and at least six other employees testing positive for COVID-19 Friday, April 24, 2020, in Aurora, Colo.

    Workers sanitize items outside a Walmart that has been closed following the deaths of three people connected to the store after being infected by the new coronavirus and at least six other employees testing positive for COVID-19 Friday, April 24, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. Associated Press

  • Workers sanitize items outside a Walmart that has been closed following the deaths of three people connected to the store after they were infected with the new coronavirus and at least six more employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Friday, April 24, 2020, in Aurora, Colo.

    Workers sanitize items outside a Walmart that has been closed following the deaths of three people connected to the store after they were infected with the new coronavirus and at least six more employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Friday, April 24, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. Associated Press

 
 
Posted5/19/2020 7:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread and its profit and sales surged during the first quarter, topping almost all expectations.

Online sales jumped 74%, fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other supplies as people sheltered in place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The company said Tuesday that same-store sales surged 10% at U.S. Walmart stores.

But costs soared as well, $900 million in all related to the pandemic.

Cash bonuses issued to all hourly workers reached $755 million and Walmart upped pay by $2 per hour at its warehouses. It rolled out an emergency leave policy and spent on shields at checkout lines, as well as new signage to control the flow of customers in stores.

Walmart pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic.

The Bentonville, Arkansas, company had profit of $1.40 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.18 per share. That well exceeds the per-share earnings of $1.10 that Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue was $134.62 billion, exceeding Wall Street forecasts by almost $1 billion.

The company also announced Tuesday that it pulled the plug on Jet.com, an online startup that it bought for more than $3 billion in 2016.

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Walmart is one of the first major retailers to report on what happened as the the virus gripped the United States. Others, like Macy's were forced to close to curb the spread of the virus.

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A portion of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on WMT at https://www.zacks.com/ap/WMT

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