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Wal-Mart, Home Depot Post Fiscal Q3 Financials

New York — Wal-Mart and The Home Depot released fiscal third-quarter results today with the giant mass merchant reporting higher sales and earnings while the home improvement chain noted lower sales and earnings due to the continuing housing slump.

Wal-Mart reported net sales of $90.9 billion in its fiscal third quarter that ended Oct. 31, an 8.8 percent increase over the third quarter of last year.

Lee Scott, president/CEO, said in a prepared statement, “Our results for the third quarter reflect the improved performance of our U.S. operations. Both Wal-Mart Stores U.S. and Sam’s Club increased profits faster than sales. Our focus on managing inventory this quarter was very positive.”

And about the remainder of the year, Scott said, “During the Christmas and holiday season, our price leadership position will benefit both our customers and the company. We have set the stage for a successful fourth quarter.”

Segment operating income, before expenses, taxes and other costs, for Wal-Mart stores was $4.01 billion, a gain of 11.1 percent with Sam’s Club up 8.6 percent to $1.08 billion.

Comp store sales in the U.S. without fuel for the quarter rose 1 percent vs. the previous year’s 1.5 percent. Sam’s Club was up 3.9 percent vs. 1.8 percent in the previous year. For the fourth quarter Wal-Mart estimates U.S. comp-store sales to be between flat and a 2 percent gain.

Home Depot reported fiscal third-quarter consolidated net earnings at $1.1 billion, down from the previous year’s $1.5 billion. Earnings from continuing operations in the fiscal 2007 third quarter were $1.1 billion, compared with fiscal 2006 third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $1.3 billion.

Sales for the third quarter totaled $19.0 billion, a 3.5 percent decrease from the third quarter of fiscal 2006, reflecting negative comp-store sales of 6.2 percent, offset in part by sales from new stores.

“We are facing a tough environment as housing indicators continue to deteriorate. Our financial performance in the third quarter reflects these tough conditions,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “But we are making significant improvements in our business, and we will continue to invest thoughtfully for the long-term health of the company.”

Given that the softness in the housing market is expected to continue for the rest of 2007 and the company’s commitment to invest in its key retail priorities, Home Depot expects its earnings per share from continuing operations, on a 52-week basis, will decline by as much as 11 percent from last year.