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Wal-Mart Earnings Up, But Lowers Guidance

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and a benchmark for the U.S. economy, reported higher quarterly profit and said earnings may trail analysts' estimates after record gasoline prices buffeted consumers.

Sales at stores open at least a year may be unchanged in the three months through July, the retailer said today. Wal- Mart fell $1.01, or 1.7 percent, to $57.01 at 10:22 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott ordered discounts as deep as 30 percent to spur demand for medicines, groceries and consumer electronics among middle-income Americans squeezed by higher expenses. Wal-Mart is also cashing tax-rebate checks for free to lure customers from Target Corp. and Kroger Co.

"There are still uncertainties about the rest of the year,'' Scott said today on a recorded call. "The economy is playing a critical factor in 2008. Customers are focusing on food and daily-use items. Small businesses are under pressure.''

Net income increased 6.9 percent to $3.02 billion, or 76 cents a share, from $2.83 billion, or 68 cents, a year earlier, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a statement. Profit beat estimates by 1 cent. Revenue for the three months through April 30 rose 10 percent to $95.3 billion.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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