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Wal-Mart Reports 1.7% Q4 Sales Gain

2/17/2009 10:30:00 AM Eastern

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores reported slightly higher sales, but lower income from continuing operations for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31.

Net sales were $107.9 billion, an increase of 1.7 percent from the previous year’s fourth quarter, while income from continuing operations was $3.79 billion, down 7.7 percent from the prior year.

Wal-Mart said income from continuing operations would have been positive on a comp basis without a litigation settlement charge and the effect of unfavorable currency exchange rates. The latter reason is a trend also seen in recent financials released by Japanese CE manufacturers who rely on export sales.

For the entire fiscal year, net sales were $401.2 billion, up 7.2 percent over the prior fiscal year, and income from continuing operations were up 3 percent to $13.3 billion, up from the prior year.

Mike Duke, president/CEO, said Wal-Mart’s sales of $107.8 billion was “the strongest sales result in its history in the fourth quarter,” and added the company “remains well-positioned to continue to serve our customers in a challenging environment because of strong price leadership.”

For Wal-Mart U.S. sales were $71.5 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, up 6 percent, and up 6.8 percent to $255.7 billion for the fiscal year. Its operating income for the quarter was up 2.2 percent to $5.4 billion compared with the prior year, while for the fiscal year it was up 7.1 percent to $18.8 billion vs. the prior year.

In a pre-recorded earnings call, Eduardo Castro-Wright, corporate vice chairman and president/CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., reported double-digit growth in flat-panel TVs and gaming systems at the company’s flagship stores.

“Wal-Mart’s position as a destination for electronics is very solid,” he said. “We continue to add new brands and new technologies, including the iPhone. Entertainment remains a growth category and we will continue to focus on leveraging exclusive entertainment properties to take advantage of the breadth of our assortments across multiple categories.”

At Sam’s Club sales were flat in the fiscal fourth quarter at $11.8 billion compared with the prior year’s fourth quarter, while for the fiscal year they were up 5.6 percent to $46.8 billion vs. the prior fiscal year. Operating income was $427 million, down 3.8 percent for the quarter and down 0.5 percent to $1.61 billion for the year.