Slow Economy Puts the Chill on Wal-Mart Profit

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Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday reported a lower profit for the holiday quarter as comparable sales in the United States declined again.

The world's largest retailer had warned in January that the rough winter and cuts in the food stamps program would hurt its profits. Wal-Mart also provided an outlook below expectations as economic pressures weigh on its shopper around the world.

"We expect economic factors to continue to weigh on our outlook," said Wal-Mart Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley. "Some of the factors affecting our consumers include reductions in government benefits, higher taxes and tighter credit"

A series of winter storms also weighed on sales.

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Wal-Mart said comparable sales at its U.S. stores, its biggest unit, fell 0.4 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter. Overall revenue rose 1.4 percent to $129.7 billion.The world's largest retailer earned $1.60 per share excluding items, down from $1.67 a year earlier.

It expects a profit of $5.10 to $5.45 per share this year.

Wall Street had expected Wal-Mart Stores to report earnings excluding items of $1.59 a share on $130.23 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

-- Reuters, and The Associated Press