Wal-Mart Stores Inc won over shoppers during the holiday season, with its Walmart U.S. division posting a 1.5 percent rise in sales at stores open at least a year.
Walmart U.S., the biggest division of the world's largest retailer, has been lowering prices, bringing back a wider variety of items and focusing on a low-price message to woo shoppers on limited budgets who started to shop at dollar stores and elsewhere in recent years. Traffic at those stores rose after six quarterly declines.
Wal-Mart earned $5.19 billion, or $1.51 per share from continuing operations attributable to the company, up from $5.02 billion, or $1.41 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding about 7 cents per share from certain tax matters and real estate transactions, Wal-Mart earned $1.44 per share. The company had forecast a profit of $1.42 to $1.48 per share, which did not include the benefits.
Wal-Mart expected same-store sales at the Walmart chain in the United States to be flat to up 2 percent, compared with a 1.8 percent drop a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a rise of 1.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Sales rose 5.8 percent to $122.29 billion.
Wal-Mart forecast first-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to the company of $1.01 to $1.06, compared with a profit of 98 cents per share a year earlier, which included a lift of 1 cent from multiple items.
It forecast fiscal year earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to the company of $4.72 to $4.92. In fiscal 2012 it earned $4.54 per share including 5 cents of benefits.
Wal-Mart shares were down $1.28, or 2 percent, at $61.20 in premarket trading, from Friday's close of $62.48.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Derek Caney)