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    Wal-Mart's Q4 Sales and Earnings Up; C.E.O. 'Optimistic' on New Initiatives

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Both sales and earnings were up for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31. The global retailer's total sales jumped 8.6 percent to $89.3 billion, while its net income was $3.6 billion, an increase of 13.4 percent.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Both sales and earnings were up for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31. The global retailer's total sales jumped 8.6 percent to $89.3 billion, while its net income was $3.6 billion, an increase of 13.4 percent.

    Despite the positive results, however, Wal-Mart's performance fell short of Wall Street projections, and it also forecast a profit outlook that is below Wall Street projections. Its stock price slipped 8 cents to close at $24.51 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Wal-Mart also released results for the fiscal year yesterday. Net sales for the year were $312.4 billion, an increase of 9.5 percent over fiscal 2005, while net income for fiscal 2006 increased 9.4 percent to a record $11.2 billion, up from $10.3 billion. Earnings per share for the year were $2.68, up from $2.41.

    "We're pleased our trend of year-over-year increases in sales and net income continues," said Wal-Mart Stores president and c.e.o. Lee Scott in a statement. "We added more than $7 billion in sales in the quarter and ended the year strong."

    Scott said he is optimistic about the year ahead, as he anticipates positive results from the company's business strategies to improve the customer experience. "Our entire management team is dedicated to growing sales by making our stores more relevant to today's customers," Scott said. "We want our merchandise to appeal to a broad range of customers who are already shopping our stores. We want customers to shop Wal-Mart for all their needs, from consumables to electronics, home decor and apparel."

    Total U.S. comparable sales for the latest quarter increased 3.1 percent, which represented a 2.7 percent increase for Wal-Mart Stores and a 5.1 percent increase for Sam's Club. Total U.S. comparable sales for fiscal 2006 were up 3.4 percent, which is comprised of a 3.0 percent increase for Wal-Mart Stores and a 5.0 percent increase for Sam's Club.

    The company expects earnings per share for the first quarter of fiscal 2007 to come in between $0.58 and $0.62, and for fiscal 2007, the forecast is $2.88 to $2.95.

    Wal-Mart also said it expects sales at stores open at least a year to increase between 2 and 4 percent in the first quarter.

    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club locations in the United States. The company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

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