Wal-Mart Warns Slow First-Quarter

Thursday, April 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc. revised its first-quarter earnings forecast Thursday, saying cool weather has slowed sales and that earnings may come in slightly below the 32 cents per share analysts were expecting.

But the world's largest retailer said earnings would be higher than the 30 cents per share it posted in the year-ago period.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Wal-Mart shares fell $2.53, or 5 percent, to $47.70.

The company said its same-store sales for the first quarter will grow by 3 to 5 percent, based on current sales.

For the five weeks ending April 6, Wal-Mart said its companywide sales had increased 3.5 percent, compared to 5.5 percent a year ago. Actual sales for the period were up 11.3 percent.

The late spring affected sales across a large portion of the country, Wal-Mart said.

``Spring categories, such as lawn and garden, sporting goods and several apparel areas were impacted by these cool weather patterns and therefore came in below plan for the period as a whole,'' the company said.

As a result, Wal-Mart said it may fall short of the 32 cents per share it had previously expected. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call were also expecting 32 cents per share for the quarter.

Wal-Mart is to announce earnings for the three months ended April on May 15.