Wal-Mart earnings beat expectations; shares up

Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:31am EST
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By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported slightly stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings on Tuesday as it booked its fifth straight gain in U.S. same-store sales, sending its shares up more than 4 percent.

However, the company also said it expected sales at stores open at least a year to grow more slowly during the current quarter, which includes the crucial holiday shopping season, and that business would remain competitive.

Wal-Mart's earnings have been under pressure from costs to boost entry-level wages and spruce up stores. Last month it warned that those costs would lead earnings to decline by as much as 12 percent next year, prompting many investors to dump the stock.

The company has also said that those investments, while hitting profits, are also starting to translate into better customer service and helping to lift sales.

"We are starting to get some good momentum," Greg Foran, chief executive of U.S. operations, said on a call with reporters.

Net profit attributable to the world's largest retailer fell to $3.304 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the third quarter ended on Oct. 31 from $3.711 billion, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected 98 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The results included a boost of 4 cents a share from an adjustment of accounting for leases.   Continued...

A family shops at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas, June 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking