updated 5/16/2006 8:37:13 AM ET 2006-05-16T12:37:13

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday its profit rose 6.3 percent in the first quarter, beating Wall Street expectations.

The company earned $2.615 billion, or 63 cents per share, in the three months ended April 30 from $2.461 billion, or 58 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of 61 cents per share.

Wal-Mart said that in its first quarter a year ago that one-time items involving taxes and a legal settlement drove up profits by $145 million or 3 cents per share.

Its overall revenue rose to $80.47 billion from $71.68 billion a year ago.

Sales at Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. open for at least a year rose 3.8 percent in the first quarter. Known as same-store sales, the figure is considered the best measure of a retailer's health.

"The success of this quarter was the result of our focus on three goals: driving sales, reducing costs and improving inventory management," Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said in a statement.

The company said it expects profits in its second quarter to be between 70 cents and 74 cents per share. For the 2007 fiscal year, Wal-Mart reiterated its earnings guidance of $2.88 to $2.95 per share. Wal-Mart said it expects same-store sales to be up between 2 and 4 percent for the second quarter.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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