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Wal-Mart Profit Drops 7.7%

However company points out it has added 63,000 jobs globally .

Wal-Mart reported on Feb. 17 a 7.7% drop in profit in its fourth quarter but on slightly higher sales despite recession that has dampened consumer spending. Net income fell to $3.79 billion in the three months ended January 31 from $4.01 billion a year earlier.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009 were $107.99 billion, an increase of 1.7% from $106.20 billion in the previous fourth quarter.

"Wal-Mart recorded the strongest sales result in its history in the fourth quarter, with $108 billion in sales," said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart chief executive. "Our performance relative to competitors was exceptionally strong in the fourth quarter and throughout the year. We expect this momentum to continue," Duke said.

Wal-Mart's net income for the whole year rose 5% to $13.4 billion from $12.73 billion the previous period. Sales also rose 7.2% to $401.24 billion.

At a time when companies are laying off workers to cope with tough times, Wal-Mart said it created about 63,000 jobs worldwide this year, including more than 33,000 in the United States.

Aside from the U.S., its overseas operations are in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Britain.

Wal-Mart is the biggest private employer in the U.S. It has more than 1.4 million workers at home and more than two million globally.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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