Walmart profits take hit, but earnings rise as online grows

A shopper loads her car after shopping at a Walmart in Pittsburgh. The company reported its earnings on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Walmart profits take hit, but earnings rise as online grows

NEW YORK: US retail giant Walmart saw profits take a hit, but earnings beat analysts’ expectations and total sales rose amid the growth of online sales, according to results released Thursday.
Net income was down $905 million from the same period last year at $2.134 billion.
But the key earnings per share measure was $1.14, two cents higher than expected. And net sales, at $121.6 billion, were up 4.4 percent over the same period last year — more than $1 billion higher than expectations.
The decrease in net income is primarily due to a change in accounting policy related to Wal-Mart’s 2016 equity investment in Chinese online distributor JD.com, of which Wal-Mart holds a little more than 10 percent.
In its guidance, the company cautioned that the recent purchase of Indian online marketplace Flipkart announced earlier this month was expected to negatively impact earnings per share in the current fiscal year by $0.25 to $0.30 if the transaction closes at the end of the second quarter.
Wal-Mart, which is trying to compete with online giant Amazon, saw US comparable store sales rise 2.1 percent and customer traffic increase 0.8 percent, although the unseasonably cold weather hurt sales in the US.
US online sales surged 33 percent, while international sales jumped 4.5 percent.
“We are changing from within to be faster and more digital, while shaping our portfolio of businesses for the future,” Walmart chief Doug McMillon said in a statement.
Following the release, the company’s stock was up more than two percent in pre-market trading to $87.85.


Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

Updated 21 May 2018
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Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Monday approved major IMF-guided proposals that aim to double the income tax base, as a key part of reforms to boost the finances of a debt-burdened economy hit by regional conflict.
“When only 4 percent of Jordanians pay (personal) income tax, this may not be the right thing,” Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in remarks after the cabinet meeting, adding the goal was to push that to eight percent. The draft legislation was submitted to parliament.
The IMF’s three-year Extended Fund Facility program aims to generate more state revenue to gradually bring down public debt to 77 percent of GDP in 2021, from a record 95 percent.
A few months ago Jordan raised levies on hundreds of food and consumer items by unifying general sales tax (GST) to 16 percent — removing exemptions on many basic goods.
In January subsidies on bread were ended, doubling some prices in a country with rising unemployment and poverty among its eight million people.
The income tax move and the GST reforms will bring an estimated 840 million dinars ($1.2 billion) in extra annual tax revenue that will help reduce chronic budget shortfalls normally covered by foreign aid, officials say.
Corporate income tax on banks, financial institutions and insurance companies will be pushed to 40 percent from 30 percent. Taxes on Jordan’s phosphate and potash mining industry will be raised to 30 percent from 24.
The government argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by progressively taxing high earners while leaving low-paid public sector employees largely untouched.
“This is a fair tax law not an unfair one,” said Malhas, who shrugged off criticism the law is lenient on many businesses connected to politicians whose transactions are not subject to tax scrutiny.
Husam Abu Ali, the head of the Income and Sales Tax Department, said a proposed IMF-recommended Financial Crime Investigations Unit will stiffen penalties for tax evaders. Critics say it will not tackle pervasive corruption in state institutions.
Abu Ali said the government could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax evasion, which is as high as 80 percent in some companies.
The amendments lower the income tax threshold and raise tax rates. Unions said the government was caving in to IMF demands and squeezing more from the same taxpayers.
“It is penalizing a group that has long paid what it owes the state,” the unions syndicate said in a statement.
“It imposes injustice on employees whose salaries have barely coped with price hikes rising madly in recent years.”