Confidential Memo: Walmart Sales in Trouble

A confidential memo obtained by Bloomberg reveals some big concerns at Walmart (WMT) -- its U.S. sales, particularly at stores open at least a year, are in big trouble. "Those Wal-Mart stores had 82.8 million fewer visits through the first five months of the company's fiscal year than a year earlier, says the memo," Bloomberg reports.

It's the latest in a long list of bad news for the domestic chain. It is also a challenge to CEO Michael Duke, who has led the retail giant since early 2009 and S Robson Walton, the chairman of the board. Walton represents the interests of the retailer's founding family which holds the controlling share block in the company.

Walmart cannot be a success without an upward movement in the revenue of its flagship division. Walmart's U.S. sales were flat in the last quarter, according to its 10-Q. Revenue for the division in the latest period was $62.6 billion. compared to the year-ago period when the revenue was $62.3 billion. That amounts to roughly two-thirds of all Walmart's revenue. Overseas sales are rising, and reached $27.9 billion last quarter, but that growth has slowed in recent quarters.

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Walmart said same-store sales dropped 1.1% in the last quarter, blaming high gasoline and food prices. The same cannot be said for rivals. Same-store sales at Target (TGT), for instance, rose 4.5% in June and are higher by 2.7% year-to-date. Results have worn on Walmart's share price. During the last two years it is down 3%, under-performing Target and the S&P 500.

The leaked memo will certainly put more pressure on CEO Duke. It has been hard to make a argument that his tenure has been successful and that argument has become even more difficult lately.