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Wal-Mart Stores Sales Rise 9.5%

Bentonville, Ark. — Sales at the Wal-Mart Stores segment of Wal-Mart increased 9.5 percent in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, climbing to $55.5 billion, up from $50.6 billion with comp-store sales edging upward 1.4 percent.

Fourth-quarter operating income at Wal-Mart Stores reached $4.2 billion, a 9.3 percent rise over the $3.9 billion recorded in the year-ago period.

“It was a solid performance, but we can do better,” said Wal-Mart’s president/CEO Lee Scott.

Sam’s Club fourth-quarter sales moved up 4.4 percent to nearly $10 billion from a year-ago $9.6 billion. Comp-store sales rose 2 percent in the period. The retailer’s wholesale club business had fourth-quarter operating income of $355 million, a 3.5 percent rise over the $343 million reported in the same three months in 2003.

Consolidated Wal-Mart revenue in the fourth quarter, ended Jan. 31, jumped 10.4 percent, reaching $82.2 billion, up from a year-earlier $74.5 billion. Total U.S. comp-store sales increased 1.5 percent in the three months. Income from continuing operations for the quarter was $3.2 billion, an increase of 16.2 percent over the $2.7 billion in the same three months in 2003. Net income reached $3.2 billion, compared with $2.7 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

For the 12 months, the Wal-Mart Stores segment saw a 10.1 percent rise in sales, to $191.8 billion, up from $174.2 billion. Comps rose 2.9 percent. Operating income reached $14.2 billion, an increase of 9.7 percent over the $12.9 billion reported the previous year.

Sam’s Club enjoyed a 7.5 percent increase in yearly sales, rising to $37.1 billion, from $34.5 billion in 2003. Comps jumped a healthy 5.8 percent, while operating income rose 13.7 percent to $1.3 billion from a year-earlier $1.1 billion.

Consolidated Wal-Mart sales for the 12 months were up 11.3 percent, reaching $285.2 billion, from the previous year’s $256.3 billion. Total U.S. comp-store sales climbed 3.3 percent for the year. Income from continuing operations for the 12 months jumped 15.9 percent to $10.3 billion from $8.9 billion. Net income topped $10 billion for the first time in the company’s history, reaching $10.3 billion, compared with $9.1 billion in 2003.