Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Walmart Inc. (formerly "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.") ("Walmart" or the "Company") helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores and through eCommerce. Through innovation, the Company is striving to create a customer-centric experience that seamlessly integrates digital and physical shopping into an omni-channel offering that saves time for its customers. Each week, the Company serves nearly 270 million customers who visit its more than 11,700 stores and numerous eCommerce websites under 65 banners in 28 countries. The Company's strategy is to lead on price, invest to differentiate on access, be competitive on assortment and deliver a great experience.
The Company's operations comprise three reportable segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam's Club.
Principles of Consolidation
The Consolidated Financial Statements include the accounts of Walmart and its subsidiaries as of and for the fiscal years ended January 31, 2018 ("fiscal 2018"), January 31, 2017 ("fiscal 2017") and January 31, 2016 ("fiscal 2016"). All material intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation. The Company consolidates variable interest entities where it has been determined that the Company is the primary beneficiary of those entities' operations. Investments in unconsolidated affiliates, which are 50% or less owned and do not otherwise meet consolidation requirements, are accounted for primarily using the equity method. These equity method investments are immaterial to the Company's Consolidated Financial Statements.
The Company's Consolidated Financial Statements are based on a fiscal year ending on January 31 for the United States ("U.S.") and Canadian operations. The Company consolidates all other operations generally using a one-month lag and based on a calendar year. There were no significant intervening events during the month of January 2018 related to the operations consolidated using a lag that materially affected the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Use of Estimates
The Consolidated Financial Statements have been prepared in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Those principles require management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities. Management's estimates and assumptions also affect the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results may differ from those estimates.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
The Company considers investments with a maturity when purchased of three months or less to be cash equivalents. All credit card, debit card and electronic transfer transactions that process in less than seven days are classified as cash and cash equivalents. The amounts due from banks for these transactions classified as cash and cash equivalents totaled $1.6 billion and $1.5 billion at January 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. In addition, cash and cash equivalents included restricted cash of $300 million and $265 million at January 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively, which was primarily related to cash collateral holdings from various counterparties, as required by certain derivative and trust agreements.
The Company's cash balances are held in various locations around the world. Substantially all of the Company's $6.8 billion of cash and cash equivalents at January 31, 2018, was held outside of the U.S. Of the Company's $6.9 billion of cash and cash equivalents at January 31, 2017, $5.9 billion was held outside of the U.S. Cash and cash equivalents held outside of the U.S. are generally utilized to support liquidity needs in the Company's non-U.S. operations.
The Company uses intercompany financing arrangements in an effort to ensure cash can be made available in the country in which it is needed with the minimum cost possible. Management does not believe it will be necessary to repatriate earnings held outside of the U.S. and anticipates the Company's domestic liquidity needs will be met through cash flows provided by domestic operating activities, supplemented with long-term debt and short-term borrowings. Accordingly, the Company intends, with only certain exceptions, to continue to indefinitely reinvest the Company's earnings held outside of the U.S. in its foreign operations. As part of the U.S. tax reform enacted on December 22, 2017, the Company is currently assessing the impact of the new legislation, which can in turn, impact its assertion regarding any potential future repatriation. If the Company's intentions with respect to reinvestment were to change, most of the amounts held within the Company's foreign operations could be repatriated to the U.S., although any repatriation under new U.S. tax laws could be subject to incremental withholding taxes. The Company does not expect current local laws, other existing limitations or potential taxes on anticipated future repatriations of earnings held outside of the U.S. to have a material effect on the Company's overall liquidity, financial condition or results of operations.
As of January 31, 2018 and 2017, cash and cash equivalents of approximately $1.4 billion and $1.0 billion, respectively, may not be freely transferable to the U.S. due to local laws or other restrictions.
Receivables are stated at their carrying values, net of a reserve for doubtful accounts. Receivables consist primarily of amounts due from:
insurance companies resulting from pharmacy sales;
banks for customer credit and debit cards and electronic bank transfers that take in excess of seven days to process;
suppliers for marketing or incentive programs; and
real estate transactions.
The Company values inventories at the lower of cost or market as determined primarily by the retail inventory method of accounting, using the last-in, first-out ("LIFO") method for Walmart U.S. segment's inventories. The inventory at the Walmart International segment is valued primarily by the retail inventory method of accounting, using the first-in, first-out ("FIFO") method. The retail inventory method of accounting results in inventory being valued at the lower of cost or market, since permanent markdowns are immediately recorded as a reduction of the retail value of inventory. The inventory at the Sam's Club segment is valued using the weighted-average cost LIFO method. At January 31, 2018 and January 31, 2017, the Company's inventories valued at LIFO approximated those inventories as if they were valued at FIFO.
Assets Held for Sale
Assets held for sale represent components and businesses that meet accounting requirements to be classified as held for sale and are presented as single asset and liability amounts in the Company's financial statements with a valuation allowance, if necessary, to recognize the net carrying amount at the lower of cost or fair value, less cost to sell. The Company reviews all businesses and assets held for sale each reporting period to determine whether the existing carrying amounts are fully recoverable in comparison to estimated fair values. As of January 31, 2018 and 2017, immaterial amounts for assets and liabilities held for sale were classified within prepaid expenses and other and accrued liabilities, respectively, in the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment are initially recorded at cost. Gains or losses on disposition are recognized as earned or incurred. Costs of major improvements are capitalized, while costs of normal repairs and maintenance are charged to expense as incurred. The following table summarizes the Company's property and equipment balances and includes the estimated useful lives that are generally used to depreciate the assets on a straight-line basis:
As of January 31,
(Amounts in millions)
Estimated Useful Lives
Buildings and improvements
Fixtures and equipment
Construction in progress
Property and equipment
Property and equipment, net
Leasehold improvements are depreciated or amortized over the shorter of the estimated useful life of the asset or the remaining expected lease term. Total depreciation and amortization expense for property and equipment, property under financing obligations and property under capital leases for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 was $10.5 billion, $10.1 billion and $9.5 billion, respectively.
The Company estimates the expected term of a lease by assuming the exercise of renewal options where an economic penalty exists that would preclude the abandonment of the lease at the end of the initial non-cancelable term and the exercise of such renewal is at the sole discretion of the Company. The expected term is used in the determination of whether a store or club lease is a capital or operating lease and in the calculation of straight-line rent expense. Additionally, the useful life of leasehold improvements is limited by the expected lease term or the economic life of the asset, whichever is shorter. If significant expenditures are made for leasehold improvements late in the expected term of a lease and renewal is reasonably assured, the useful life of the leasehold improvement is limited to the end of the renewal period or economic life of the asset, whichever is shorter. Rent abatements and escalations are considered in the calculation of minimum lease payments in the Company's capital lease tests and in determining straight-line rent expense for operating leases.
The Company is often involved in the construction of its leased stores. In certain cases, payments made for certain structural components included in the lessor's construction of the leased assets result in the Company being deemed the owner of the leased assets for accounting purposes. As a result, the payments, regardless of the significance, are automatic indicators of ownership and require the Company to capitalize the lessor's total project cost with a corresponding financing obligation. Upon completion of the lessor's project, the Company performs a sale-leaseback analysis to determine if these assets and the related financing obligation can be derecognized from the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheets. If the Company is deemed to have "continuing involvement," the leased assets and the related financing obligation remain on the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheets and are generally amortized over the lease term. At the end of the lease term, including exercise of any renewal options, the net remaining financing obligation over the net carrying value of the fixed asset will be recognized as a non-cash gain on sale of the property.
Long-lived assets are initially recorded at cost. Management reviews long-lived assets for indicators of impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. The evaluation is performed at the lowest level of identifiable cash flows, which is at the individual store or club level. Undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated by the related assets are estimated over the assets' useful lives based on updated projections. If the evaluation indicates that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable, any potential impairment is measured based upon the fair value of the related asset or asset group as determined by an appropriate market appraisal or other valuation technique.
Goodwill and Other Acquired Intangible Assets
Goodwill represents the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of net assets acquired in business combinations and is allocated to the appropriate reporting unit when acquired. Other acquired intangible assets are stated at the fair value acquired as determined by a valuation technique commensurate with the intended use of the related asset. Goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets are not amortized; rather, they are evaluated for impairment annually and whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the value of the asset may be impaired. Definite-lived intangible assets are considered long-lived assets and are amortized on a straight-line basis over the periods that expected economic benefits will be provided.
Goodwill is evaluated for impairment using either a qualitative or quantitative approach for each of the Company's reporting units. Generally, a qualitative assessment is first performed to determine whether a quantitative goodwill impairment test is necessary. If management determines, after performing an assessment based on the qualitative factors, that the fair value of the reporting unit is more likely than not less than the carrying amount, or that a fair value of the reporting unit substantially in excess of the carrying amount cannot be assured, then a quantitative goodwill impairment test would be required. The quantitative test for goodwill impairment is performed by determining the fair value of the related reporting units. Fair value is measured based on the discounted cash flow method and relative market-based approaches. After evaluation, management determined the fair value of each reporting unit is greater than the carrying amount and, accordingly, the Company has not recorded any impairment charges related to goodwill.
The following table reflects goodwill activity, by reportable segment, for fiscal 2018 and 2017:
(Amounts in millions)
Balances as of February 1, 2016
Changes in currency translation and other
Balances as of January 31, 2017
Changes in currency translation and other
Balances as of January 31, 2018
Goodwill recorded for fiscal 2017 Walmart U.S. acquisitions primarily relates to Jet.com, Inc. ("jet.com").
Indefinite-lived intangible assets are included in other assets and deferred charges in the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheets. These assets are evaluated for impairment based on their fair values using valuation techniques which are updated annually based on the most recent variables and assumptions. There were no significant impairment charges related to indefinite-lived intangible assets recorded for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016.
Self Insurance Reserves
The Company self-insures a number of risks, including, but not limited to, workers' compensation, general liability, auto liability, product liability and certain employee-related healthcare benefits. Standard actuarial procedures and data analysis are used to estimate the liabilities associated with these risks as of the balance sheet date on an undiscounted basis. The recorded liabilities reflect the ultimate cost for claims incurred but not paid and any estimable administrative run-out expenses related to the processing of these outstanding claim payments. On a regular basis, the liabilities are evaluated for appropriateness with claims reserve valuations provided by independent third-party actuaries. To limit exposure to some risks, the Company maintains insurance coverage with varying limits and retentions, including stop-loss insurance coverage for workers' compensation, general liability and auto liability.
Income taxes are accounted for under the balance sheet method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the estimated future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases ("temporary differences"). Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rate is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.
Deferred tax assets are evaluated for future realization and reduced by a valuation allowance to the extent that a portion is not more likely than not to be realized. Many factors are considered when assessing whether it is more likely than not that the deferred tax assets will be realized, including recent cumulative earnings, expectations of future taxable income, carryforward periods, and other relevant quantitative and qualitative factors. The recoverability of the deferred tax assets is evaluated by assessing the adequacy of future expected taxable income from all sources, including reversal of taxable temporary differences, forecasted operating earnings and available tax planning strategies. These sources of income rely heavily on estimates.
In determining the provision for income taxes, an annual effective income tax rate is used based on annual income, permanent differences between book and tax income, and statutory income tax rates. Discrete events such as audit settlements or changes in tax laws are recognized in the period in which they occur.
The Company records a liability for unrecognized tax benefits resulting from uncertain tax positions taken or expected to be taken in a tax return. The Company records interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits in interest expense and operating, selling, general and administrative expenses, respectively, in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income. Refer to Note 9 for additional income tax disclosures.
The Company recognizes sales revenue, net of sales taxes and estimated sales returns, at the time it sells merchandise to the customer. eCommerce sales include shipping revenue and are recorded upon delivery to the customer. Additionally, estimated sales returns are calculated using historical experience of actual returns as a percent of sales.
Membership Fee Revenue
The Company recognizes membership fee revenue both in the U.S. and internationally over the term of the membership, which is typically 12 months. The following table summarizes membership fee activity for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016:
Fiscal Years Ended January 31,
(Amounts in millions)
Deferred membership fee revenue, beginning of year
Cash received from members
Membership fee revenue recognized
Deferred membership fee revenue, end of year
Membership fee revenue is included in membership and other income in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income. The deferred membership fee is included in accrued liabilities in the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Customer purchases of gift cards, to be utilized in our stores or on our eCommerce websites, are not recognized as revenue until the card is redeemed and the customer purchases merchandise using the gift card. Gift cards in the U.S. and some countries do not carry an expiration date; therefore, customers and members can redeem their gift cards for merchandise indefinitely. Gift cards in some foreign countries where the Company does business have expiration dates. A certain number of gift cards, both with and without expiration dates, will not be fully redeemed. Management estimates unredeemed gift cards and recognizes revenue for these amounts when it is determined the likelihood of redemption is remote. Management periodically reviews and updates its estimates.
Financial and Other Services
The Company recognizes revenue from service transactions at the time the service is performed. Generally, revenue from services is classified as a component of net sales in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income.
Cost of Sales
Cost of sales includes actual product cost, the cost of transportation to the Company's distribution facilities, stores and clubs from suppliers, the cost of transportation from the Company's distribution facilities to the stores, clubs and customers and the cost of warehousing for the Sam's Club segment and import distribution centers. Cost of sales is reduced by supplier payments that are not a reimbursement of specific, incremental and identifiable costs.
Payments from Suppliers
The Company receives consideration from suppliers for various programs, primarily volume incentives, warehouse allowances and reimbursements for specific programs such as markdowns, margin protection, advertising and supplier-specific fixtures. Payments from suppliers are accounted for as a reduction of cost of sales, except in certain limited situations when the payment is a reimbursement of specific, incremental and identifiable costs, and are recognized in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income when the related inventory is sold.
Operating, Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses include all operating costs of the Company, except cost of sales, as described above. As a result, the majority of the cost of warehousing and occupancy for the Walmart U.S. and Walmart International segments' distribution facilities is included in operating, selling, general and administrative expenses. Because the Company only includes a portion of the cost of its Walmart U.S. and Walmart International segments' distribution facilities in cost of sales, its gross profit and gross profit as a percentage of net sales may not be comparable to those of other retailers that may include all costs related to their distribution facilities in cost of sales and in the calculation of gross profit.
Advertising costs are expensed as incurred, consist primarily of print, television and digital advertisements and are recorded in operating, selling, general and administrative expenses in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income. In certain limited situations, reimbursements from suppliers that are for specific, incremental and identifiable advertising costs are recognized as a reduction of advertising costs in operating, selling, general and administrative expenses. Advertising costs were $3.1 billion, $2.9 billion and $2.5 billion for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
The cost of start-up activities, including organization costs, related to new store openings, store remodels, relocations, expansions and conversions are expensed as incurred and included in operating, selling, general and administrative expenses in the Company's Consolidated Statements of Income. Pre-opening costs totaled $106 million, $131 million and $271 million for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
The assets and liabilities of all international subsidiaries are translated from the respective local currency to the U.S. dollar using exchange rates at the balance sheet date. Related translation adjustments are recorded as a component of accumulated other comprehensive loss. The Company's Consolidated Statements of Income of all international subsidiaries are translated from the respective local currencies to the U.S. dollar using average exchange rates for the period covered by the income statements.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Pronouncements Adopted in Fiscal 2018
In March 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") 2016-09, Compensation–Stock Compensation (Topic 718), which is intended to simplify accounting for share-based payment transactions. The ASU changed several aspects of the accounting for share-based payment award transactions, including accounting for income taxes, forfeitures and minimum statutory tax withholding requirements. Management adopted this ASU beginning February 1, 2017, and as a result, reclassified an immaterial amount from operating activities to financing activities in the Company's prior year consolidated cash flows.
On December 22, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff issued Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 118, Income Tax Accounting Implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ("SAB 118"), in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ("Tax Act"). The Company has elected to record provisional amounts, as allowed by SAB 118, during a measurement period not to extend beyond one year of the enactment date. Management expects to complete the analysis within the measurement period in accordance with SAB 118.
Pronouncements to Be Adopted in the Year Ending January 31, 2019 ("fiscal 2019")
In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606). This ASU represents a single comprehensive model to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to a customer at an amount that reflects the consideration it expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. The Company adopted this ASU on February 1, 2018, under the modified retrospective approach, which resulted in an immaterial cumulative adjustment to retained earnings. Also, this ASU will require additional disclosures.
In January 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-01, Financial Instruments–Overall (Topic 825), which updates certain aspects of recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of financial instruments. This ASU primarily impacts the Company's accounting for its investment in JD.com ("JD"). The Company adopted this ASU on February 1, 2018, which resulted in a cumulative positive adjustment to retained earnings of approximately $2.9 billion based on the market value of our investment in JD at January 31, 2018. The retained earnings adjustment relates to both the available for sale portion and the cost portion of the investment. Beginning February 1, 2018, the adoption requires the remeasurement of our investment in JD due to observable price changes and impairments, if any, to be recorded through the Consolidated Statement of Income, introducing volatility to reported net income.
In November 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-18, Statement of Cash Flows–Restricted Cash (Topic 230), which requires restricted cash to be included with cash and cash equivalents when reconciling the beginning and ending amounts on the statement of cash flows. The Company adopted this ASU on February 1, 2018, which, while immaterial, will modify the Company's presentation of Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows. At January 31, 2018, the Company had restricted cash recorded in line items other than cash and cash equivalents of $258 million.
In February 2018, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update ASU 2018-02, Income Statement–Reporting Comprehensive Income (Topic 220): Reclassification of Certain Tax Effects from Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income. The ASU provides that the stranded tax effects from the Tax Act in accumulated other comprehensive loss may be reclassified to retained earnings. The ASU is effective February 1, 2019, with early adoption permitted. Management anticipates early adopting this optional standard and is evaluating the effect on the Company's consolidated financial statements.
Other Pronouncements Being Evaluated
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), which requires lease assets and liabilities to be recorded on the balance sheet. Certain qualitative and quantitative disclosures are also required, as well as retrospective recognition and measurement of impacted leases. The Company will adopt this ASU on February 1, 2019 and is implementing new lease systems in connection with the adoption. Management is progressing with implementation and continuing to evaluate the effect to the Company's consolidated financial statements and disclosures. Management expects a material impact to the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheet.
In June 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-13, Financial Instruments–Credit Losses (Topic 326), which modifies the measurement of expected credit losses of certain financial instruments. The Company will adopt this ASU on February 1, 2020. Management is currently evaluating this ASU to determine its impact to the Company's consolidated financial statements.