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Wal-Mart Reports Strong Fourth Quarter

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Bentonville-based Wal-Mart reported Tuesday fourth-quarter profit growth of 8.8 percent to beat analyst estimates. And the company issued a bullish forecast the year ahead.

Chief Executive Lee Scott says Wal-Mart's flagship US business helped lift the full company's results. He attributed the growth in part to a twin strategy of discounting hot items like electronics and holiday toys while continuing to tailor stores more closely to local demographics.

Analysts say Wal-Mart overcame headwinds including remodeling projects that interrupted sales and an overly ambitious push into trendier women's apparel.

Wal-Mart's profit for the period ending January 31st was $3.94 billion, or 95 cents per share. That's up from $3.62 billion or 87 cents from one year prior.

Wal-Mart beat analysts expectations by 3-cents per share.

Wal-Mart said it expects its same-store sales to increase by 1 percent to 3 percent in its first quarter, and first-quarter per-share earnings of between 68 cents and 71 cents. For fiscal 2008, Wal-Mart expects per-share earnings of between $3.15 and $3.23.
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