Walmart on Thursday topped quarterly earnings and revenue expectations, as the discounter made significant e-commerce gains, drove profits with newer businesses like advertising and won over more high-income shoppers.

The big-box retailer said it now expects to hit the high-end or slightly top its previous full-year guidance. Walmart had expected net sales growth of 3% to 4% and adjusted earnings per share of between $2.23 and $2.37.

In an interview with CNBC, Chief Financial Officer John David Rainey said one of the factors boosting Walmart’s grocery business is the widening gap between the price of cooking at home and buying food at fast-food chains or restaurants.

Plus, he added, shoppers – especially with higher incomes – appreciate the convenience that Walmart offers. For the first time, its delivery business surpassed its store pickup in terms of volume, Rainey said.

“We’ve got customers that are coming to us more frequently than they have before and newer customers that we haven’t traditionally had, and they’re coming into a Walmart whether it’s a virtual store online, or whether it’s one of our physical stores,” he said.

Here’s what the discounter reported for the three-month period that ended April 30 compared with what Wall Street expected, according to a survey of analysts by LSEG:

  • Earnings per share: 60 cents adjusted vs. 52 cents expected
  • Revenue: $161.51 billion vs. $159.50 billion

Walmart’s net income jumped to $5.10 billion, or 63 cents per share, compared with $1.67 billion, or 21 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue climbed 6% from $152.30 billion in the year-ago quarter. That increase includes a benefit of roughly 1% from an additional selling day in the period. 

Walmart shares rose about 5% in premarket trading Thursday.

As the nation’s largest retailer and private employer, Walmart is often viewed as a bellwether for the U.S. economy. Yet it has generally fared better during an inflationary period than other retailers because it sells staples like groceries and has a value-oriented reputation.

Same-store sales for Walmart U.S. climbed by 3.8%, excluding fuel. The industry metric includes sales from stores and clubs open for at least a year. At Sam’s Club, same-store sales rose 4.4% year over year, excluding fuel.

E-commerce sales shot up by 22% year over year for Walmart U.S., fueled by store pickup and delivery of online orders, as well as the company’s growing third-party marketplace. 

This week brought promising news for Walmart and other retailers: Inflation eased in April, according to the Labor Department data released on Wednesday. The consumer price index was up 3.4% year over year. The closely-watched number tracks how much goods and services cost at the cash register.

Even so, the discounter has noticed the impact of inflation, as its shoppers have been selective with purchases. Rainey said customers’ “wallets are still stretched.” He said shoppers have bought less general merchandise, such as home goods and electronics, as they prioritize spending on food and health-related items, a trend that the company has seen for the past several quarters.

As Walmart tries to attract and retain more affluent households, it recently launched a new private-label grocery brand, which includes bolder flavors, plant-based items and more.

Still, “even the low-income consumer seems to be holding in there pretty well,” Rainey said. He added that sales even in general merchandise categories improved year over year.

Walmart has looked beyond retail to drive profits higher and fend off rivals like Amazon. Those newer businesses like advertising and its subscription-based membership program, Walmart+, lifted its profits during the quarter and contributed to its operating income growth outpacing its sales growth. The company’s global advertising business grew 24% during the quarter, including 26% growth for the segment in the U.S.

Rainey said a third of the company’s year-over-year operating income gains came from those newer businesses.

Walmart has been slashing spending in some areas and investing heavily in others. Earlier this week, the company said it would lay off and relocate hundreds of its corporate employees, including the transfer of many to its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. That move came on the heels of the retailer shuttering its Walmart health clinics, a network of doctor and dentist offices that had opened next to its stores.

On the other hand, the big-box retailer has poured money into other efforts. As it chases advertising dollars, Walmart announced in February that it will acquire smart TV maker Vizio in a $2.3 billion deal. It is upgrading and modernizing more than 1,400 stores across the country.

Rainey said Walmart’s announcement this week, which will relocate hundreds of people who currently work from their homes or in offices in Dallas, Toronto and Atlanta, is about shifting away from remote work, not about cost cuts. The move also included layoffs. Walmart has not announced a five-day-a-week office policy, but has said it wants employees to work from the office the majority of the time.

“We just feel strongly in the benefit of working together,” he said. “One of our competitive advantages is our culture — and that’s fostered by being together.”

Shares of Walmart closed on Wednesday at $59.83, bringing the company’s market share to $482.22 billion. As of Wednesday’s close, the company’s stock is up nearly 14% so far this year, surpassing the roughly 11% gains of the S&P 500 during the same period.

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