Walmart just saw $30 billion in market cap destroyed by Amazon fears

It’s good to be Jeff.
It’s good to be Jeff.
Image: Reuters/Lindsey Wasson
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Walmart just had its worst day on Wall Street in more than 30 years.

Shares plunged more than 10% today (Feb. 20) after the world’s largest retailer missed fourth-quarter earnings expectations, reporting a drop in profit and online sales growth during the 2017 holiday season.

It was the company’s worst single-day stock performance since Jan. 8, 1988.

The stock rout slashed about $30 billion off Walmart’s market cap, which finished the day at around $280 billion, down from $310 billion on Feb. 16.

Walmart’s poor quarterly results are the latest evidence of how even the giants of retail are under siege from Amazon. On its earnings call, Walmart executives said the company would double down on its investments in e-commerce and online grocery sales, a consumer sector that’s thought to increase both shopper numbers and loyalty.

Analysts were hardly reassured. “Is it fair to say that e-commerce losses have kind of bottomed [out]?” Karen Short, a research analyst at Barclays, asked. “Is it still consistent with what you previously said, that e-commerce losses bottomed in 2018?”

“It’s possible we may choose to lose a little more in e-commerce this year than we did last year, but generally speaking, we think it’d be about the same level of losses,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon answered. He added later, as analysts continued to hammer the point: “I and the management team are watching e-commerce growth rates, e-commerce profitability, store traffic counts, and making decisions in a relatively fast cycle on how much price to invest and where to invest it.”

While Walmart’s shares have fallen about 5% this year, Amazon’s are up 25%. The company gained a modest 1.4% today, closing at $1,468.35.