Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wal-Mart's Solar Initiative Expands - Analyst Blog

The leading grocery chain Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ( WMT ) has come up with its largest solar installation Buckeye distribution center near Phoenix in Arizona, which will generate up to 5.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year. The amount of energy generated has the capability of providing power to more than 400 homes.

The distribution center has 14,000 solar panels on a 1,000,000 sq. feet building and parking canopies which will produce approximately 30% of the center's energy needs.

The new facility at Buckeye distribution center is the second solar project in Arizona by Wal-Mart and came just a year after a 2 megawatt project in Casa Grande, Arizona. The installation was done in partnership with SolarCity, which installs, owns and maintains solar power systems for Walmart.

The company has more than 180 renewable ongoing energy projects around the world, capable of producing energy that can power 78,000 American homes annually. These renewable energy projects include solar rooftops, micro-wind on parking lots, biodiesel generators and fuel cells.

The company recently unveiled the addition of a 1 megawatt wind turbine at its Red Bluff distribution center in California. Wal-Mart also partnered with SolarCity in September 2011 to install solar-power panels in more than 60 stores in California and Colorado. SolarCity has installed solar power panels at Wal-Mart stores in California, Arizona and Colorado.

Walmart is working towards its goal of achieving energy self sufficiency via power generated from its renewable power generation sources. We believe that Walmart has got a good opportunity to expand and accelerate its solar power initiative program in the U.S. In addition to creating jobs and protecting the environment, these solar projects have also reduced costs for businesses by lowering power bills.

Walmart's second quarter fiscal 2013 earnings of $1.18 were ahead the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and also increased 8% year on year. Total revenue increased 4.5%, driven by positive same store sales, which were driven by improved traffic and product offerings.

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Walmart, which faces stiff competition from Target Corp. ( TGT ) and Costco Wholesale Corporation ( COST ). Wal-Mart currently has a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating).


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