Walmart sees slowing online sales growth after lackluster holiday quarter

(Reuters) - Walmart Inc (N:WMT) forecast slowing online sales growth for the year after missing Wall Street expectations for quarterly sales and profit, hurt by a shorter holiday season and lower demand for apparel, toys and electronics.

Sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.9%, excluding fuel, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, well below analysts' average estimate of 2.35%.

Walmart said it expects online sales to grow about 30% for fiscal 2021, down from last year's growth of 37%. For the holiday quarter, the company reported a 35% rise, its slowest in nearly two years.

The full-year forecast excludes any potential financial effect from the coronavirus outbreak in China, the company said.

"We started and finished the quarter with momentum, while sales leading up to Christmas in our U.S. stores were a little softer than expected," Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.38 per share, but missed the average estimate of $1.43 per share.

Total revenue rose 2.1% to $141.67 billion, missing the estimate of $142.49 billion.