Wal-Mart profit up, US same-store sales decline

Wal-Mart profit up, US same-store sales decline

New York: Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted a higher quarterly profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast, but US same-store sales declined as its shoppers remain under pressure in a weak economy.

Sales at US Wal-Mart stores open at least a year fell 1.3%, the sixth consecutive quarterly decline at the world’s largest retailer.

Sales at Wal-Mart’s US discount stores have suffered from the company’s missteps in terms of merchandise selection and promotion. In addition, high unemployment has forced Wal-Mart’s lower-income customers to cut back on even some essential items or to search out lower prices at dollar stores.

Wal-Mart said profit in the third quarter ended 31 Oct. was $3.44 billion, or 95 cents a share, compared with $3.15 billion, or 82 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest results included a tax benefit of 5 cents per share.

Net sales rose 2.6% to $101.2 billion.

Earnings per share, excluding the tax benefit, were in line with analysts’ average forecast of 90 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Wal-Mart said it now expects fiscal 2011 earnings per share of $4.08 to $4.12, up from a previous forecast of $3.95 to $4.05, reflecting the tax benefit and an expectation for a solid operational performance in its fourth quarter.