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Wal-Mart’s Q4 Net Up 13.4%

Bentonville, Ark. —Wal-Mart Stores reported record net income of $3.6 billion for its 2006 fiscal fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31, representing an increase of 13.4 percent year-over-year.

Fourth quarter earnings were favorably impacted by a $103 million net tax benefit, the company said. Net sales for the three months rose 8.6 percent to $89.3 billion, while comparable-store sales grew 3.1 percent.

Net income for fiscal 2006 increased 9.4 percent to a record $11.2 billion, while net sales for the full fiscal year were $312.4 billion, an increase of 9.5 percent over fiscal 2005. Full-year comp sales grew 3.4 percent.

“We’re pleased our trend of year-over-year increases in sales and net income continues,” said Wal-Mart Stores’ president/CEO Lee Scott. “We added more than $7 billion in sales in the quarter and ended the year strong.”

Scott said he is optimistic about the year as he anticipates positive results from the company’s business strategies to improve the customer experience. These include upgrades of its CE assortment and floor, a revamped Web site featuring an expanded CE selection, and new marketing programs promoting the introduction of higher-end goods to draw higher income customers to other parts of the store.

“Our entire management team is dedicated to growing sales by making our stores more relevant to today’s customers,” Scott said. “We want our merchandise to appeal to a broad range of customers who are already shopping our stores. We want customers to shop Wal-Mart for all their needs, from consumables to electronics, home décor and apparel.”

Broken out by segment, Wal-Mart’s flagship discount stores had operating income (income before net interest expense, income taxes, unallocated corporate overhead and minority interest) of $4.7 billion for the fourth quarter, an increase of 11.1 percent. Net sales rose 8.6 percent to $60.2 billion, and comps increased 2.7 percent.

For the full fiscal year, the Wal-Mart’s eponymous stores had segment operating income of $15.3 billion, an increase of 8.2 percent. Net sales rose 9.4 percent to $210 billion, and comps gained 3 percent for the year.

The Sam’s Club segment had fourth-quarter operating income of $377 million, an increase of 6.2 percent. Total sales at Sam’s Club rose 6.8 percent to $10.7 billion, while comp sales grew 5.1 percent for the period.

For fiscal 2006, the Sam’s Club segment had segment operating income of $1.4 billion, an increase of 8.2 percent. Net sales grew 7.2 percent to $39.8 billion, and comps rose 5 percent year-over-year.