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Wal-Mart Earnings Beat Expectations
Associated Press
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Fourth-quarter earnings at retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. surpassed $2 billion for the first time ever, beating Wall Street's expectations despite what the company called a "challenging retail environment."

For the three months ended Jan. 31, Wal-Mart earned $2.004 billion, or 45 cents per share, up 4.5 percent from $1.92 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the year-ago period, the Bentonville-based company said Tuesday.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were expecting 44 cents per share.

Sales jumped 37 percent to $56.56 billion, up from $41.39 billion.

Wal-Mart's results come as retailers are struggling to cope with a slowing domestic economy and plummeting consumer confidence. Still, officials said that they were relatively pleased with the results.

"It was a good year, but a year that was not quite up to our high Wal-Mart expectations," said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's president and chief executive.

Sales at Wal-Mart stores open more than a year rose 3 percent, while sales at its Sam's Club warehouse division rose 3.3 percent.

For the year ended Jan. 31, Wal-Mart earned $6.30 billion, or $1.40 per share, on sales of $193.30 billion. In the previous fiscal year, Wal-Mart earned $5.38 billion, or $1.20 per share, on sales of $166.81 billion.

Wal-Mart operates more than 3,100 stores in the United States as well as more than 1,000 stores in nine other countries.

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