Wal-Mart's Second-Quarter Earnings Rise

CHICAGO -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world's biggest retailer, said on Wednesday its quarterly earnings rose more than 20 percent, bolstered by a recovery in its Sam's Club warehouse unit and by rapid international expansion.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said net income rose to $2.44 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the second quarter ended on July 31, from $2.02 billion, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.

Quarterly sales increased 11.3 percent to $62.6 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.2 percent, with the bulk of the gain at the company's namesake discount stores.

The Wal-Mart Stores division, which includes supercenters as well as the discount stores, posted operating profit of $3.32 billion, up 9.3 percent, with sales up 10.2 percent at $42.57 billion.

At Sam's Club, operating profit rose 12.8 percent to $309 million, while sales climbed 7.7 percent to $8.55 billion.

The warehouse club division, finishing its first year under new leadership, has aggressively cut prices in recent months, putting pressure on sector leader Costco Wholesale Corp.

Operating profit jumped 18.9 percent at Wal-Mart's international division.

In other Wal-Mart news, company officials said Tuesday that Wal-Mart would spend about 4.46 billion Yen, or $38 million, to raise its stake in Seiyu, its ailing Japanese affiliate.

The purchase lifts Wal-Mart's stake to 37.8 percent from 36.6 percent.
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