Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by stronger sales in its international division, tighter control on expenses and efforts to draw customers into its U.S. stores earlier than ever for holiday shopping.

The world's biggest retailer said net income rose to $2.86 billion, or 70 cents per share, in the third quarter that ended October 31, from $2.65 billion, or 63 cents per share, a year earlier.

The latest results included a tax benefit of 1 cent per share from the sale of real estate.

Analysts on average were expecting profit of 67 cents per share, excluding the gain, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales rose almost 9 percent to $90.9 billion. Sales in the U.S. division rose 6.4 percent to $57.65 billion, while sales in the company's international operations rose almost 17 percent to $22.4 billion.

Wal-Mart is trying to revive sales at its U.S. stores and appeal to shoppers who are feeling the pinch of higher food and fuel costs and the downturn in the housing market. In the past several weeks, it has cut prices on popular toys and 15,000 other items to try to drive shoppers to its stores for their holiday shopping.

The company forecast earnings per share from continuing operations at 99 cents to $1.03 for the fourth quarter and $3.13 to $3.17 for the full year.

The outlook includes a restructuring charge of $40 million after tax in the fourth quarter for the company's Japanese operations.

Last month, Wal-Mart said it would acquire the remaining shares of its Japanese supermarket subsidiary, Seiyu Ltd.

Shares of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company were down roughly 6 percent year-to-date through Monday, while smaller rival Target Corp had fallen less than 1 percent.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Derek Caney/Lisa Von Ahn)