BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday its fourth-quarter earnings rose 16.3 percent, beating analysts expectations.
Wal-Mart earned $2.53 billion, or 57 cents per share, for the three months ending Jan. 31, compared to $2.19 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call forecast earnings of 56 cents per share.
Sales for the quarter were $71.07 billion, up 10.7 percent from $64.2 billion a year earlier.
Sales in stores open at least a year were up 2.7 percent in the quarter. Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets saw a 3.3 percent same-store increase, while the Sam's Club wholesale division fell 0.3 percent for the quarter in same-store sales.
``In a challenging retail environment with slowing comparable sales growth, we achieved another year of record sales and earnings,'' Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said.
In midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Wal-Mart shares were up 46 cents at $49.61.
For the year, Wal-Mart earned $8.04 billion, or $1.81 per share, up from $6.67 billion, or $1.49 a share, a year earlier.
Sales for the year were up 12.3 percent to $244.52 billion from $217.80 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales were up 5.1 percent, with the Wal-Mart division seeing a 5.7 percent increase and a rise of 2.3 percent at Sam's Clubs.
Wal-Mart has 2,875 stores within its Wal-Mart division, 525 Sam's Clubs and 1,288 international units. Also, the company owns a 34 percent interest in Seiyu Ltd. in Japan, with options to buy 66.7 percent of the company, which has more than 400 stores.