BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its annual profit outlook on Thursday amid sluggish sales, higher-than-expected health care costs and the need to invest more in its e-commerce operations.
The world’s largest retailer eked out a 0.6 percent increase in second-quarter profit, dragged down by a weak U.S. business. A key revenue measure was flat in its U.S. discount stores, though it reversed five straight quarters of declines. Meanwhile, the number of customers has now fallen seven quarters in a row.
The results show the continued challenges facing Wal-Mart’s new management team. Doug McMillon, who was head of the company’s international division, took over the company as CEO on Feb. 1.
Last month, he named Greg Foran, who was the CEO of Wal-Mart’s China business as the head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. discount business, which accounts for 60 percent of the company’s revenue. Foran, who started his new job earlier this month, replaced Bill Simon, who had held the position since 2010.