Wal-Mart Shares Fall After Company Cuts Forecast

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. declined in pre-market trading today following the company's reduction of its November sales forecast, raising doubts of a huge holiday shopping season, according to published reports.

In before-the-bell trade on the INET electronic trading system, the retailer's shares dipped to $54.25 from a Friday close at $55.32 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Over the weekend Wal-Mart said sales hadn't met expectations in the week ended the day after Thanksgiving, which is one of the most profitable shopping days of the year.

The lower forecast came only two weeks after Wal-Mart said it expected sales to grow at a faster rate into Christmas and raised its year profit outlook.

The retailer said it now expects November sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year to go up just 0.7 percent from last year. It earlier predicted a rise of 2 percent to 4 percent. Wal-Mart will issue November sales figures on Thursday.

"No surprises here," said Richard Hastings, v.p. and retail analyst at Bernard Sands LLC, of Wal-Mart weak November sales growth. Hastings cited contributing factors such as negative fallout from a recent spate of publicity; signs of improvement in the economy, and reductions in joblessness; and growing consumer demand for products and brands that Wal-Mart doesn't carry.
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