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HCN Stock Watch: Stocks slide significantly

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The stock market slumped substantially on Monday, with HCN Top 30 companies taking hits of multiple percentage points; TREX was down as much as 9.92%.

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More job cuts at Sears Canada

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sears Canada, which laid off more than 1,300 employees on Jan. 15, is cutting an additional 624 jobs. The retailer said it is modifying its store structure to improve efficiency and increase the effectiveness of the chain of communication between management and the store associate teams within the stores.

Sears Canada will eliminate primarily a mid-tier level of leads within its full-line stores, resulting in an average reduction of five associates per store. There will also be an alignment of the regional and head office structures to reflect the new store model, and also to improve efficiency in Sears other formats and to align with the size of the business. This will result in a staff reduction of 624 associates.

“The changes we are making in stores will not affect the number of front-line associates, and service to our customers will not be impacted,” said Doug Campbell, president and CEO, Sears Canada. “Our current structure results in inefficiencies and barriers to effective communication among store associates and the changes we are making are designed to result in better store execution and consistency of presentation and standards. We continue to plan for the future of Sears Canada and are taking steps today that will allow us to continue serving customers as a viable national retailer coast to coast in stores and through our direct channel now and in the future.”

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Weak sales at Walmart

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bad weather and a reduction in food stamps led to weaker-than-expected sales at Walmart and Sam’s Club, which combined with greater-than-expected international expense, prompted an uncharacteristic pre-announcement from the company that fourth-quarter profits would be worse than expected. 

Walmart said its earnings per share adjusted to exclude several non-recurring and greater-than-expected expenses related to international operations would be below the low end of a previously provided forecast of $1.60 to $1.70 and full year earnings per share would be below earlier guidance in the range of $5.11 to $5.21.

The earnings miss for the quarterly period ended Jan. 31 was attributed to a number of factors. In the U.S., same-store sales at Walmart stores and Sam’s Club are both expected to be slightly negative, according to Walmart CFO Charles Holley, compared to earlier guidance which called for comps at Walmart to be roughly flat and comps at Sam’s in the range of flat to 2%.

“Despite a holiday season that delivered positive comps, two factors contributed to lower comp sales performance for the 14-week period for Walmart U.S.,” Holley said. “First, the sales impact from the reduction in SNAP (the U.S. government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits that went into effect Nov. 1 is greater than we expected. And, second, eight named winter storms resulted in store closures that impacted traffic throughout the quarter. Sam’s Club was also impacted by the weather throughout the quarter.”

The pre-announcement by Walmart is unfamiliar territory for a company accustomed to meeting or exceeding its forecasts. It also marks an inauspicious beginning to a new leadership era at the world’s largest retailer. Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon assumes the role of president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores on Feb. 1 when current president and CEO Mike Duke steps down.

Walmart is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on Feb. 20.

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