Walmart beats estimates for sales on stimulus spending boost, raises profit forecast

May 18 (Reuters) - Walmart Inc raised its full-year earnings forecast on Tuesday and beat estimates for same-store sales as it benefited from additional stimulus checks that put more money in consumers’ pockets and boosted demand for apparel and electronics.

Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 6%, excluding fuel, in the first quarter ended April 30. Analysts had estimated growth of 0.86%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year. In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop ... We anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said.

Online sales lost some momentum, rising 37%, compared with a surge of 74% in the year-earlier period and 69% in the prior quarter.

Walmart said it now expects fiscal 2022 earnings to increase in high single digits, while previously the company had forecast a slight drop in profit for the year.

Operating income rose 32.3% to $6.91 billion in the quarter, while adjusted earnings was $1.69 per share. (Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)