Wal-Mart CEO says he is pleased with yearly sales results


Wednesday, January 4th 2006, 2:47 pm
By: News On 6


BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott, taking issue with how Wall Street is judging the company's holiday sales performance, said Wednesday he is pleased with the year's results and is counting on changes in merchandise, management and public relations to bolster growth in 2006.

The company estimates its December sales at stores open at least a year came in at about 2.2 percent, the low end of its original forecast, even after heavy marketing efforts. But Scott said in an interview with The Associated Press that he views that as being less important than the $2 billion increase in total sales last month at new and existing stores.

Scott also said be believes Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s stock, which fell 11 percent in 2005, is undervalued _ especially since he expects the world's largest retailer to report record sales and profits for the current fiscal year that ends on Jan. 31.

``Is it more important to grow total sales and total profitability, or would you be better off if you did not impact your stores with new stores and ran higher (same-store) comps, which is what Wall Street is focused on?'' he asked.

Scott said some changes _ such as sales of trendier clothing _ were already helping. Other moves, including regrouping management, would add to gains on top of what he described as ``an extraordinary year'' in 2005.

``What we look at is, when you end the year, did you produce the record results you wanted and are you positioned to do that again in the next year? And we are positioned to do that again in the next year. Increasing sales, increasing EPS (earnings per share), increasing real profit dollars,'' Scott said.

Scott said he was spending more of his time speaking out about Wal-Mart in the face of an organized campaign against it by two union-backed groups, trying to get his message across that Wal-Mart is good for Americans because it bolsters competition and cuts prices for working families.

Wal-Mart's profits topped $10 billion for the first time last fiscal year as overall revenue rose 11 percent to $285 billion.