Profit Rose but Outlook Slips at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores, the retail giant, reported a higher quarterly profit on Thursday but said sales at its namesake stores in the United States fell in the holiday quarter. It also forecast earnings for the current quarter that could miss Wall Street estimates.

Profit for the fourth quarter that ended Jan. 31 rose to $4.63 billion, or $1.21 a share, from $3.79 billion, or 96 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said earnings
excluding a charge of 4 cents a share for restructuring and a tax benefit of 10 cents a share were $1.17.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1.12 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales in the quarter rose 4.6 percent to $112.82 billion.

Total sales fell 1.6 percent at stories open at least a year, with sales rising 0.7 percent at its Sam’s Club warehouse division and falling 2 percent in its Wal-Mart stores. It had forecast sales to be flat, plus-or-minus 1 percent.

For the first quarter it expects earnings from continuing operations to range to 81 cents to 85 cents a share. Analysts were expecting 85 cents.