Wal-Mart Posts Record Profit

Predicts flat sales in U.S. for next year.

Wal-Mart Stores, the world's biggest retailer, reported May 13 record quarterly earnings and sales for its discounted wares but sounded a cautious note on the weak U.S. economy. Net income for the fiscal 2009 first quarter ended April 30 was a record $3.022 billion, an increase of 6.9% from the same period in 2008. Net sales in the first quarter were approximately $94.1 billion, an increase of 10.2% from the same period a year ago.

The company said that its worlwide sales growth was driven by price leadership, better customer service and operational improvements, "even in light of economic headwinds caused by higher energy costs and food inflation." International sales led the way, rocketing 22% higher.

Sales in the retail giant's home market were far less brisk. Wal-Mart brand stores registered a gain of 6.6%, while its Sam's Club stores climbed 7.6%. "For the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, we estimate the companys comparable-store sales increase in the U.S. to be between flat and two percent," said Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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