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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. beat analysts' expectations yesterday, reporting record sales and earnings for the latest quarter. Net sales were $98 billion, an increase of 10.9 percent over the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2006, while income from continuing operations was $3.9 billion, an jump of 8.8 percent, the retailer said.
Wal-Mart said robust growth in international operations, as well as cost-cutting measures in its U.S. stores, boosted its performance in the quarter ended Jan. 31, 2007. A $98 million net tax benefit recorded in the company's tax provision also favorably affected quarterly earnings.
Net sales for the full fiscal year were $345 billion, an increase of 11.7 percent over the previous fiscal year. Income from continuing operations for the year increased 6.7 percent, to $12.2 billion.
"The Wal-Mart associates around the world stepped up and delivered a wonderful fourth quarter, and I am encouraged by their achievements as we head into the current fiscal year," said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart Stores president and c.e.o., in a statement.
At the domestic Wal-Mart Stores division, fourth-quarter sales were $64.2 billion, a 6.7 percent jump from the same period last year. Same-store sales rose a modest 1.3 percent. Sam's Club sales were $11.1 billion, a 4.4 percent increase, with same-store sales up 3.1 percent.
By comparison, sales in the International division spiked 29.6 percent, to $22.7 billion.
The increases in the International segment's net sales included the impact of three acquisitions since the third quarter of fiscal 2006: an additional stake in The Seiyu, Ltd., of which Wal-Mart now owns approximately 53 percent; Sonae Distribuicao Brasil, S.A., now referred to as Southern Brazil; and a majority stake in Central American Retail Holding Company, or CARHCO, of which the company now owns 51 percent. CARCHO is now operated as Wal-Mart Central America.