Wal-Mart profit rises but forecast light

  @ibtimes on February 18 2010 7:40 AM

Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a higher quarterly profit on Thursday but said sales at its existing U.S. namesake stores fell during the holiday quarter and forecast earnings for the current quarter that could miss Wall Street estimates.

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

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

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1.12 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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

Total U.S. same-store sales fell 1.6 percent, with sales rising 0.7 percent at its Sam's Club warehouse division and falling 2 percent in its Walmart stores. It had forecast U.S. same-store sales to be flat, plus-or-minus 1 percent.

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

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; editing by John Wallace)

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